The official Palestinian Wafa news agency "reports:"
Thousands of Christian followers of the Orthodox and Catholic faiths from all over the world gathering at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem’s Old City celebrated Easter Holy Saturday with the emergence of the holy fire from the location of the tomb of Jesus Christ.We've seen these lies before.
However, only a few privileged Palestinian Christians, mainly those living in East Jerusalem or Israel, were able to attend the celebrations. Thousands of their brethren from the locked West Bank and Gaza Strip, only few kilometers away from Jerusalem, were not able to attend them.
Israel does not allow Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza to reach the walled-in East Jerusalem without special army issued permits.
As in every year, Israel issued a ed number of permits for West Bank and Gaza Christians to enter Jerusalem during Easter. But then it imposed a week-long closure on the occupied territories for the Jewish Passover holiday, which coincided with Easter celebrations, thus deeming all permits void for this week.
At the same time, Israeli police set up blockades around the Old City of Jerusalem and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher preventing thousands of pilgrims from reaching their holy sites.
Israel issues tens of thousands of permits for both Christians and Muslims to enter Jerusalem, even during Passover.
We saw on Friday that some 30,000 Muslims, including from the West Bank, entered the Temple Mount - according to Arab media - during the Passover "closure."
The crowds in Jerusalem are expected to be even higher than usual this year. The churches themselves have to limit the number of people that can visit because of the crowds. Wafa is pretending that these are all Israeli restrictions aimed at Palestinian Christians, and this is not true.
Anyone who ever visited the Old City knows how narrow the streets are and how difficult it is to manage tens of thousands of pilgrims visiting. Of course there have to be restrictions, but they are not aimed at any particular group.
Also, the permits work even with the pseudo-closure of the territories for Passover, contrary to what the PA's mouthpiece says.
300 Christians from Gaza were allowed to come to Jerusalem this year, and there are only 700 Christians in Gaza altogether.
I don't know how many total permits were issued this year and I don't know how many applications were denied. In the past some 20,000 permits were given for Palestinian Christians. There are always some who are denied permits because of security reasons, and they are a minority.
Either way you slice it, this Wafa story is simply filled with lies.
UPDATE: This Arabic news story says "Thousands of Palestinians and foreign Christians flocked to Jerusalem, despite military checkpoints and the security cordon imposed by the occupation to secure the Jewish Passover celebrations."