Church of the Holy Sepulchre (image from

Thousands of Orthodox Christians from around the world gathered in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Saturday for the ceremony of the Holy Fire in advance of the Orthodox Easter celebration on Sunday. They were attacked both outside and inside the Church by armed Israeli soldiers.

According to the Al Mayadeen news site, their correspondent in occupied Jerusalem reported that Israeli military forces, which were deployed throughout the Old City of Jerusalem on Satuday, prevented Christians from freely reaching the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, adding that one of the priests was attacked by the Israeli military while on his way to the church.


Despite the Israeli restrictions, thousands of Christians celebrated the ceremony of the Holy Fire at he Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Church is revered by Christians worldwide as being constructed on the place where they believe that Jesus rose to heaven.

Prior to attacking the Christians on their way to Church, the soldiers closed the New Gate, which was supposed to be the passage for Christian pilgrims on their Easter march to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Sebastia in Al-Quds, Archbishop Atallah Hanna, told Al Mayadeen news reporters that the Israeli military turned the Jerusalem Old City into a military barracks, and that the violation of the sanctity of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is an unprecedented targeting of the Christian presence in the city.

Archbishop Hanna said that the Israeli forces’ decision to enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with their weapons is a clear provocation of Christians and worshipers, and that the soldiers attacked worshipers in an unprecedented scene during the most important Christian holidays.

He said, “This is a cry to the Christian churches in the East and the whole world to pay attention to the Christian presence in Occupied Al-Quds [Jerusalem”, and that “the occupation is sabotaging our holidays and religious occasions, and this is a crime committed in broad daylight against all Christians.”

Christians gathered outside Church of the Holy Sepulchre:

This attack by the Israeli military against Christians praying during the Easter weekend was not a spontaneous assault, but had been planned by the military – as evidenced by the report the previous day in the “Israel Hayom” newspaper in which representatives of the Christian community warned against the Israeli decision to impose restrictions on Christian worshipers entering the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.