Thursday, April 18
Latest News
  1. Clashes erupt as Israeli forces raid Palestinian stores near Qalandiya
  2. Israeli forces critically injure Palestinian student in Tuqu
  3. Israeli undercover forces detain 2 Palestinian minors in Shufat
  4. BZU president applauds student council election process
  5. Israeli forces raid Sabastiya, threaten residents
  6. Israeli president nominates Netanyahu as PM
  7. Israeli forces dismantle, confiscate tent in Susiya for 2nd time
  8. Israeli forces target Gazan farmers, fishermen
  9. FM commemorates Palestinian Prisoner Day
  10. Israel demolishes Palestinian-owned home in Beit Hanina

Israeli rules on Easter access to Jerusalem unclear

April 2, 2010 9:53 A.M. (Updated: April 3, 2010 7:13 P.M.)
Jerusalem – Ma'an – Rumors abound about whether or not Palestinian Christians from the West Bank will be able to access Jerusalem and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre over Easter, as crossings into the city remain locked and a general closure prevails on the West Bank.

Access restrictions will be implemented by several arms of the Israeli military, police and Border Police units, many of which overlap or cancel each other out.

Israeli army

The Israeli military imposed a general closure on the West Bank on the start of Passover that will last until 7 April.

According to a military spokesman, Palestinians issued permits for family visits and religious services will not be subjected to the general closure as of 1 April for a period of two weeks.

The Ministry of Defense said 10,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and 500 Palestinians in Gaza were issued permits for the Easter holidays. Palestinians from Gaza were given one-week permissions, while Palestinians in the West Bank were issued two-week permits.

The spokesman said some Palestinians with premits trying to access Jerusalem may have been unable to do so before 1 April, when a series of "goodwill measures" went into effect.

As of Thursday, the spokesman said, the general closure of the West Bank would no longer prevent Palestinians with permits for the holidays from leaving the area.

Border police

Border police operate the checkpoints that prevent West Bank Palestinians from accessing Jerusalem.

Police ordered main Bethlehem checkpoint (Rachel's Tomb) closed as of Wednesday, and said at the time that the terminal may open for the Saturday of Light celebrations observed by Orthodox Christians. As of Thursday, it was not clear if the terminal would open.

On Wednesday, two German nationals and a pregnant Palestinian woman were denied passage through the checkpoint and told to use the Beit Jala "tunnels" terminal. The Germans were permitted to pass through but the pregnant woman with a hospital permit was not.

In February, Israeli officials announced the closure of the Beit Jala crossing for passport and holders of medical permits. On Wednesday, a crossings spokesman said travelers should be allowed to pass through the terminal.

Border police also enforce closures on the Old City, setting up and manning barricades around the gates to the ancient quarters where pilgrims hope to enter for Good Friday, Saturday of Light and Easter Sunday worship.

A spokesman for Israeli Border Police in the Jerusalem area said no decision had been made as to whether restrictions would be put in place during Easter, and could not confirm or deny reports that Muslim worshipers had been instructed to use the Lions and Herod's Gates to access the Al-Aqsa Mosque, while access for Muslims at other gates would be restricted.

He did confirm reports that cars would not be permitted entry into the Old City for the duration of Easter.

National police

Israeli national police, alongside Border Police, guard the Old City and arrange security for the Sepulchre Church. A spokesman for the body denied reports from Sepulchre officials that Christians would be barred from the Old City, saying the facts were "incorrect," but declined to clarify as to what restrictions would be in place at the Old City Gates.

National and border police teams also control access to the church, itself. The national police spokesman said authorities met with church officials to plan security for Easter, when a limited number of Christians are expected to be granted access to the building.

As of Thursday, observers said thousands of police were spread out in and around the Old City, as Easter events ramp up and Passover continues. Locals said Jewish extremists had announced their intention to organize marches and may attempt to enter Al-Aqsa.
Powered By: HTD Technologies
Ma'an News Agency
All rights reserved © 2005-2015