PHOTOS: Palestinian Christians protest Israeli permit regime during Palm Sunday procession
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By Activestills <http://972mag.com/author/activestills/> |Published March
25, 2013PHOTOS: Palestinian Christians protest Israeli permit regime during
Palm Sunday procession
*During the annual Palm Sunday procession, Palestinian Christians protest
permits delayed and denied during the Easter season.*
Photos by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org
In the annual Palm Sunday procession, Palestinian Christians carry signs
naming their West Bank communities, all of which are cut off from Jerusalem
by the Israeli separation barrier, requiring their residents to obtain
special permits to enter, March 24, 2013. Such restrictions have
dramatically reduced the number of Palestinians able to participate in
religious traditions of any faith in Jerusalem.
Whether during Ramadan or Easter, every year, Palestinians with West Bank
IDs face challenges entering Jerusalem for religious worship. Despite
claims by Israeli authorities of granting more permits and relaxing
restrictions, each year thousands of worshipers are denied entry.
This Easter season, early reports indicate that Palestinian Christian
communities from the northern West Bank had to cancel their Palm Sunday
celebrations in Jerusalem due to a lack of permits. Parishes from the
Bethlehem and Ramallah areas received between 30% and 40% of the permits
One individual from the Bethlehem area lamented that while he was granted
entry, the rest of his family was turned away at the checkpoint. Such
arbitrary policies are typical with Israel�s permitting system, which
rarely provides a coherent rationale for who is granted and who is denied,
other the than the catch-all excuse of �security reasons�.
PLO official Hanan Ashrawi was quoted as
There should not even be a question of needing permits to visit one�s own
city�. East Jerusalem is the occupied capital of the Palestinian people and
freedom of worship is a basic human right for all of our Christian and
Muslim citizens; a right which is being systematically and increasingly
denied by a foreign occupying force. The fact that so many Palestinian
Christian communities are denied their simple human right to worship freely
in their own capital city is unacceptable.
Palestinian Christians and Muslims rightly ask why if they are granted
special permission to visit Jerusalem for religious holiday seasons�and are
at that time not considered a security threat�why they are not allowed to
freely visit throughout the year.
The heavy Israeli military presence along the procession route contrasts
with the original meaning of the holiday. Palm Sunday celebrates Jesus�
�triumphal entry� into Jerusalem, marking the beginning of the Christian
Holy Week. According to the Christian scriptures, Jesus rode a donkey into
Jerusalem, and the celebrating people there lay down their cloaks in front
of him and waved palm branches as a symbol of victory. Additional
his choice to ride on a donkey, perhaps referring to Eastern traditions
that it is an animal of peace, versus the horse, which is the animal of
war. A king came riding upon a horse when he was bent on war and rode upon
a donkey when he wanted to point out he was coming in peace. Jesus� entry
to Jerusalem would thus symbolize his entry as the Prince of Peace, not as
a war-waging king.
The Gospel of Luke<http://www.biblestudytools.com/nrs/luke/passage.aspx?q=luke+19:41-42>
contains this prescient passage of Jesus� entry into Jerusalem: �As he came
near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, �If you, even you, had only
recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are
hidden from your eyes.��
The procession begins at the Church of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives,
also known as the �Palm Sunday Church�, which is located directly next to a
Palestinian home that was demolished by Israeli authorities several years
Palestinian Christians carry a mock Israeli permit for entering Jerusalem.
All Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza are cut off from
Jerusalem by the Israeli separation barrier, requiring their residents to
obtain special permits to enter.
Israeli soldiers watch as Palestinian Christians in the annual Palm Sunday
procession. Palm Sunday is the Christian celebration of Jesus� triumphal
entry into Jerusalem as the �Prince of Peace� the week before his
Palestinian and international Christian pilgrims march past an Israeli
settlement on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem. All Israeli
settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East
Jerusalem, are illegal under international law.
Palestinian Christians carry a banner for the West Bank town of Birzeit
with a sign attached reading �Entry Denied�. This year, residents of
Birzeit and several other West Bank communities did not receive the
additional permits typically issued for religious seasons in time to
participate in the Palm Sunday celebration.
A Palestinian flag waves among palm branches entering the Old City of
Jerusalem at the end of the Palm Sunday procession.
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