RAMALLAH, Wednesday, April 12, 2023 (WAFA) – The Higher Presidential Committee for the Follow-up of Church Affairs in Palestine today called on the Palestinian Christians to participate in large numbers in the Holy Light activities on Saturday in Jerusalem despite the Israeli occupation measures.

It condemned in a statement issued by its chairman, member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Ramzi Khoury, the obstacles and restrictions imposed by the Israeli occupation government on the Holy City with the approach of Holy Light events, saying that freedom of worship is a right and no one must wait for permission from anyone to practice their religious rituals in the mosques and churches and in the capital of Palestine, occupied Jerusalem.

It expressed its support for the position of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and Patriarch Theophilos III, as well as representatives of the Status Quo Committee of the churches for rejecting the decision by the Israeli police to place barriers throughout the Old City of Jerusalem to prevent Christian pilgrims from attending the Holy Light ceremonies in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

The Committee stressed that the Israeli repressive policies against the Palestinians and restricting their freedom of worship is a flagrant violation of international laws and covenants that guarantee the practice of religious rituals without any restrictions, pointing out that the Israeli occupation authorities impose unreasonable, unjustified and unprecedented restrictions on access to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

It pointed out that Israel has imposed restrictions on the entry of worshipers to Al-Aqsa Mosque since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, and has reduced the number of permits for people in the West Bank and canceled others for residents of the Gaza Strip wishing to participate in the holidays, in addition to the procedures imposed on Holy Light Saturday in the Holy City, obstructing the access of worshipers to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher while providing protection for settlers to storm Al-Aqsa Mosque and perform religious rituals.

The committee called on the local churches to expose all Israeli practices and the restrictions they are subjected to and called on the international community to hold Israel accountable for the crimes it is committing against the Palestinian people, especially its transgression of international norms and legitimacy.