1 August, 2014 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter | Mobile





mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 12/27/2013
PALESTINE
Gaza Christians banned from Bethlehem and celebrations even at Christmas
The desire of all Gaza Christians to celebrate Christmas in the place where Jesus was born. The Israeli government bans young people between 16 and 35 years from travelling to the West Bank for religious holidays. Hamas makes concessions for Christmas, but only for the secular aspect. The religious festival relegated to churches.

Gaza (AsiaNews / Agencies ) - Christians living in Gaza are a mere 73 km from Bethlehem, but for most of them it is impossible to celebrate Christmas in the place where Jesus was born.  As is now the case every year, in 2013 the Israeli government once again rejected hundreds of visa applications forwarded by Greek - Orthodox and Catholic Churches .

Suzy and Samer, are a young Orthodox couple . She is 22 years old, he 30. Both fall within the travel ban for religious festivals and to visit relatives living in the West Bank for Palestinians between 16 and 35. However, for years they have been sending their request to go to Bethlehem, even if it is rejected. Interviewed by the online newspaper Al- Monitor, Suzy said: "We were hoping to spend Christmas at the Church of the Nativity. But this seems impossible. There is very little festive spirit here in Gaza because of the economic situation and the limited scope of celebrations". Samer added that "it is every Christian's dream to spend the holiday in Bethlehem. Geographically, we are very close to the city, yet it is impossible to go there".

The Greek - Orthodox bishop Alexios says: "I have lived in Gaza for the past 12 years. I have witnessed all the wars and am now a witness to the harsh blockade imposed on the city and its inhabitants. I ask world powers to permit citizens of the Strip to exit and enter normally; for love is everywhere, but we must see it in our hearts." He added that the church submits applications each and every year, but approval is not his to give, and came from the authorities. He believes that the main problem lies in the war between the two peoples, leading to this blockade and a situation that affects mostly young people.

Jabr al- Jaldeh , head of religious relations of the Greek Orthodox church in Gaza, says that thousands Christians of all denominations have requested permission to travel to Bethlehem through the Patriarchate of Jerusalem on January 7. Some have received the visa, but 214 young people were rejected because their age ranged between 16 and 35 years.

For 2013, the Islamist Hamas government made ​​some concessions to Christians, allowing them to decorate some stores and to erect a Christmas tree in the city these days hit by a devastating flood that flooded most of the Gaza Strip. However, the celebrations permitted are limited to the secular while the religious festivities are confined to churches.

Lisa al- Souri, 20, and her husband of 27 Tarek are a couple of Catholics. Like the rest of the youth of Gaza's Christians they celebrated their last Christmas in Bethlehem more than 10 years ago. Lisa does note, however, that now it is also difficult to celebrate Christmas in Gaza itself. "In 2005 - she says - a large lighted tree was erected in the city center and everyone participated in the celebrations. Unfortunately, this dates back some eight years ago. This was eight years ago. Instead of wishing to go to Bethlehem and celebrate there, I wish to celebrate as a Christian here in Gaza with the rest of the people, just as we did in the past".


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
12/27/2008 PALESTINE - ISRAEL
Tens of thousands of pilgrims in Bethlehem for Christmas
12/27/2010 ISRAEL – PALESTINE
Record number of pilgrims visits Bethlehem as thousands throng Manger Square for Mass
12/07/2004 PALESTINE
Palestinian Christians fear their country might become an Islamic state
12/23/2003 palestine - christmas
Bethlehem, sad and isolated. Christians emigrate
12/22/2009 PALESTINE
Gaza Christians hoping to go to Bethlehem for Christmas

Editor's choices
VATICAN
"Stop! I am asking you with all my heart. Stop!" says pope as he speaks out on the Middle East, Iraq and Ukraine He mentions children, victims of war, "from whom we take away the hope for a decent life," urging the parties to address "every diatribe with the tenacity of dialogue and negotiation and the power of reconciliation". As tomorrow marks 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War, "a day of mourning," we should learn the lessons of history. The Gospel makes us know the true Jesus, the living Jesus, who speaks to the heart and is a life changer as he was for Saint Francis of Assisi. "The joy of finding the treasure of the Kingdom of God comes through, can be seen. Christians cannot hide their faith."
IRAQ - VATICAN
Saddened by "the timidity of the civilised world," Baghdad patriarch's heart bleeding "for the innocent in Iraq, Syria and Gaza" "Forget us not!" says Mar Louis Sako in a message to Card Barbarin on the occasion of the march of solidarity with Iraqi Christians, held today in Lyon.
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.