Allyn Fisher-Ilan, ‘U.N. peace envoy criticizes Israeli Easter security in Jerusalem’, Sat Apr 19, 2014 6:28pm EDT
Easter is a time that Christians celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, described in the Christian Bible as having occurred three days after his crucifixion by Romans. Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected at the site where the Church of the Holy Sepulchre now stands in the Old City of Jerusalem.
On Saturday (19 April) Christian worshippers participated in the holy fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a momentous spiritual event in Orthodox Easter rites.
The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Perry says that Israeli security officers had stopped him, at a checkpoint along with other diplomats and dozens of Palestinians trying to make their way to the holy fire ceremony, “claiming they had orders to that effect”.
Terry Balata, a Palestinian witness, said she heard the Israeli officer tell Serry, who was with about 30 other diplomats and worshippers, “so what?” when he identified himself as U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s envoy to the region.
Charging “unacceptable behavior from the Israeli security authorities,” Serry demanded in his statement that all parties “respect the right of religious freedom.”
An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said Mr Serry had displayed “a serious problem of judgment” and that any attempts to limit access were carried out for safety reasons.
Spokesman Yigal Palmor praised “the dedicated work of the Jerusalem police”.
A foreign ministry statement added: “Had any harm come to the pilgrims due to uncontrolled crowd movements, Mr Serry would have been prompt to cast responsibility on the same police which he now condemns for doing its job properly”.
Prior to Mr Serry’s statement, the Palestinian Negotiation Affairs Department describes the restrictions placed on Palestinian Christians during the Easter Celebrations, including permit regime, denial of right of return, road blocks within the Jerusalem, discrimination (both to Palestinians and Arab Christians from neighbouring countries).
See further: ‘Resurrection and Easter Restrictions’: Easter in Jerusalem, Negotiation Affairs Department, April 2014 http://www.nad-plo.org/userfiles/file/fact%20sheets/FACTSHEET_Easter_2014.pdf
Israeli army installs new, remote-controlled weapon atop separation wall, 19 April 2014
Injustice and Isolation: Easter under Occupation – 2012
Holy fire ceremony draws thousands in Jerusalem, Occupied West Bank, 20 April 2014 http://alray.ps/en/index.php?act=post&id=4011#.U1RG3-aSxbw