A Report By Radio Bethlehem 2000 — The Israeli occupation forces obstructed the Palestinians from marking Palm Sunday by preventing them from entering occupied Jerusalem, through a systematic policy that led to the “displacement” of entry permits it allegedly granted to a few Palestinian Christians, thus denying them the right to enter the Holy City. Of course, those special entry permits are just a few, while the Israeli government allows itself the right to reject whomever it wants and, in many cases, when families apply to get permits through their churches, Israel deliberately grants some family members permits and denies permits to others, and therefore, the whole family won’t be able to attend.

One of the excuses Israel use is the claim that various applications have been lost or displaced.

Radio Bethlehem 2000 surveyed several Palestinian Christians, asking them about what is happening as they prepare to celebrate Easter, while Israel continues its violations and continues to deprive Palestinians access to their holy city of Jerusalem.

One resident (identified by his initials A. Q) from Beit Jala, said; “the Israeli occupation is deliberately depriving Palestinian Christians from celebrating this important feast.”

He added that Israel’s illegitimate policies denying the Palestinians access to their holy sites are a continuous issue.

Another resident (A. R) said the Israeli policies represent a double standard, adding; “I cannot even imagine what type of international media and public outrage would happen if a Jewish person was denied the right to pray”.

“They would have turned the world upside down, calling for freedom of worship”, he said. “But Israel’s racism knows no religion”.

For his part, Hanna Issa, Secretary-General of the Islamic-Christian Committee for Protecting Jerusalem and the Holy Sites, said “the fact that the Jewish people were marking Pesach, and the Christians in Palestine were marking Palm Sunday on same day, contributed to Israel’s unwillingness to allow Palestinian Christians access to the holy city.”

“We have also seen what happened in the al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem on Sunday morning”, he added. “The police fired gas and invaded the area; Israel just wants to make life harder for the Palestinians when it comes to Jerusalem.”

Jack Rofa, coordinator of Scout Troops in the area, told Radio Bethlehem 2000 that all scouts were supposed to be granted entry permits to enter occupied Jerusalem, to celebrate and march in this holy feast, but Israel delayed looking into permit applications, and it was too late for the scouts to leave and march in the holy site.

“Eleven scout groups from the occupied West Bank were supposed to participate, but only five managed to make it into the holy city”, he said. “Due to Jewish Pesach, Israeli imposed strict closure on the Occupied Territories.”

“Some groups had permits, but not all of their members did”, he added. “This pushed entire scout troops to cancel their participation.”