Israel blocks some Christians from Holy Fire ceremony

Church of the Holy Sepulcher (File)

Middle East Monitor  /  May 2, 2021

Israel on Saturday prevented some Orthodox Christians from attending the Holy Fire ceremony at Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Anadolu Agency reported.

Orthodox Christians, including priests, seeking to attend the ceremony flocked to the church — one of the most sacred Christian sites in the world — in East Jerusalem, but were blocked by police in the narrow streets leading to the church.

The Holy Fire ceremony symbolizes Jesus’s resurrection.

Eyewitnesses said Israeli police erected barricades to block access, adding that some clergymen and a small number of Orthodox Christians were able to advance to the church.

No restrictions on amount of participants

Unlike the COVID-19 measures of 2020, no restrictions were imposed this year on the number of participants taking part in the ceremony.

The keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which has been the subject to dispute between different sects of Christianity throughout history, are kept by two Palestinian Muslim families.

The area is home to religious sites sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims.

Ottoman Sultan Abdulmecid handed over the keys of the church to two Muslim families from the notables of Jerusalem in order to put an end to the fighting between Christians.