We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, aggression committed by Israeli Occupation Forces against Palestinian youth and families that were celebrating Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, in occupied East Jerusalem.
While Christian youth of Palestine were praying and singing in the Holy City of Jerusalem, Israeli forces harassed them because they were displaying a Palestinian flag. There were flags displayed by worshipers from dozens of countries, but occupying forces chose to single out Palestinian youth for raising their national flag in their sovereign capital. Israel knows that Palestinian identity is long rooted in Jerusalem and cannot and will not be eradicated. Such petty actions on a Holy Day only reflects the insecure need of the occupying force to project its power into every aspect of Palestinian life in Jerusalem. This is emblematic of Israeli policy that denies that Jerusalem shall be a free city, holy for the three monotheisms.
Today’s actions are a pattern: occupation forces are trying to remove the Palestinian, Arab, Christian and Muslim identity of the city, from last year’s brazen attempted changes to the Status Quo at Al Aqsa Mosque Compound, to the most recent threats to tax church property in Jerusalem, which would cripple the core of Jerusalem’s Christian institutions and violate centuries-long agreed practices, and that ended up with the Heads of Churches protesting by closing the Holy Sepulcher. This has been encouraged by the Trump Administration’s illegal decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In doing so, the US administration has totally ignored the legal status of the city, as well as the policies of the Israeli occupation that continue to affect our people, even during our Holy Christian and Muslim celebrations.
We salute the steadfastness of our people and their courageous non-violent response to the occupiers’ provocations. We also regret that thousands of Palestinians were unable to celebrate this holy day in their capital because of an arbitrary and illegal permit regime that greatly restricts Palestinians’ access to their capital.
We wish our people, and particularly the Christian community, a blessed celebratory period of resurrection with the hope that we will soon celebrate all our national and religious events in a free and open Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Palestine.