The head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, Archbishop Atallah Hanna, has demanded Palestinian Muslims and Christians be guaranteed freedom of access to their holy places in the occupied city of Jerusalem to practise their religious rituals in peace.
For years Israeli checkpoints have impeded the arrival of Christian worshippers to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, he added, adding that Christian pilgrims visit Palestine to pray, worship and seek blessings from the holy places, and not to be stopped at the checkpoints and be abused.
Archbishop Hanna said freedom of worship and freedom of access to the holy places in Jerusalem are one of the most basic rights, and therefore it is not permissible to overlook these rights, or accept the fait accompli imposed by the Israeli occupation on Palestinians, where the city of Jerusalem becomes a military barracks with checkpoints in every corner.
“These days, Palestinian Christians are eager to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and pray in it, but, unfortunately, there are unjust measures that prevent Palestinians from reaching Jerusalem, where military checkpoints and the Apartheid Wall surround the Holy City and prevent Palestinian Christians and Muslims, from reaching their holy places until after they obtain special permits that allow them to enter,” he explained.
“It is not permissible to hinder the arrival of Palestinian Christians and pilgrims coming from different parts of the world to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, as well as our Muslim brothers who wish to reach Al-Aqsa Mosque,” he added.
“Open Jerusalem for its people so that they may reach it with complete freedom. Open Jerusalem to all its visitors and pilgrims who come to it from all parts of the world. Jerusalem is the city of our faith and the incubator of our most important sanctities. No believer should be prevented from reaching the holy places in this blessed part of the world,” he said.