Christian Worshippers Barred from Church in Israel

Israeli police have once again imposed a capacity limit on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is today supposed to hold an Orthodox Holy Saturday service in which the Miracle of the Holy Fire is to take place. Greek Orthodox church leaders have claimed the restrictions, which have already seen brawls with Israeli police break out, are “heavy-handed”.

The church sees a large amount of Christian pilgrims, and as Orthodox Pascha (easter) approaches, the number is only increasing. However, Israeli authorities have mandated that only 200 people are allowed in the courtyard of the church, with an additional 1800 in the building itself.

Many Greek Orthodox officials have states they attempted to negotiate a larger capacity limit, but Israeli police have stated the capacity limit recommendation came from a church official in the first place, claiming they received a letter from the church’s Architect of the Common Technical Office, though the letter’s authenticity has not been verified.

Notably, as they have done in many of the previous years, many of Gaza’s Palestinian Christians have been denied entry into Israel in order to complete a pilgrimage to the church.

Clashes with Israeli police have broken out as they attempt to halt crowds of worshippers from reaching the church.