A petition in support of freedom of worship in Jerusalem

Sabeel has worked on a petition to support the Church leaders in standing against the Israeli government’s restrictions. Close to 4000 people have signed the petition and shared it with decision makers in their own countries. In both 2010 and 2014, the community also appealed to the High Court to end restrictions on the rights of Palestinian Christians to attend services at the Church and to protect the freedom of worship. But the Court refused to take a position and said the police should respect the right to freedom of worship while also taking responsibility for security and organization. The local churches reject the claims of the police that the restrictions are in favor of the community. Prior to the occupation of East Jerusalem, the Christian community used to worship in the thousands with no problems documented. The Israeli police have continued to create more restrictions despite the instructions of the Israeli High Court.

According to the tradition of the Church, each year on the day before Orthodox Easter, a flame miraculously appears inside the empty tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The flame is captured by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem and is shared with thousands of Palestinian Christians and pilgrims who cheer as the church bells ring and hold candles. The Fire is quickly passed from candle to candle. As it has for centuries, the Holy Fire is brought to the different corners of the world. Lanterns holding the flame are put into cars and driven to Gaza, Ramallah, Bethlehem, and the border crossings with Egypt and Jordan.