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Palestinian Christians Face Greater Restrictions This Easter

Israel has issued fewer permits to Palestinian Christians wishing to visit Jerusalem on the holiest event on the Christian calendar, Lena Odgaard writes.
A Catholic worshipper holds a palm frond with a Palestinian flag during a Palm Sunday procession on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem March 24, 2013. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun (JERUSALEM - Tags: RELIGION) - RTXXVUR

Thousands of Christians from across the globe are flocking to Jerusalem to follow the footsteps of Jesus during the Easter festivities. But while pilgrims from Africa, Asia, the US and Europe can easily spend the most important Christian holiday in the historic city, Christian Palestinians living only five to 15 miles away cannot. According to Palestinian priests, the number of permits available have been greatly reduced for this holiday.

Christian pilgrims marked Palm Sunday, March 24, by dancing and singing songs of worship in a long procession from the top of the Mount of Olives down to the Old City. Among them were also Palestinian congregations carrying banners with the messages: "Ramallah — 15 kilometers from Jerusalem," "Beit Sahour — 9 kilometers from Jerusalem" and even one holding a picture of the permit Palestinians must obtain to access Jerusalem. Their aim was to spread awareness of how close the Palestinian Christian parishes in the West Bank are to the Holy City, though most are not allowed to go there.

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