23 May, 2015 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
ASIA
Vigil for persecuted Christians, our teachers in the mission in the West
by Bernardo CervelleraThe "wall of indifference and cynicism" and the silence and apathy so often denounced by Pope Francis have become almost a fortress. Such persecution reflects confessional manipulation, which slams Islam as such, and ideological manipulation, which forgets what is happening in North Korea or China. An increasingly post-Christian Europe seems disinterested in Christians.
RUSSIA – CHINA
Moscow Patriarchate: China authorises the ordination of Chinese Orthodox priests on its territory
by Marta AllevatoMetropolitan Hilarion, the Moscow Patriarchate’s ‘foreign minister’, made the announcement after a visit to China where he met the leaders of the State Administration for Religious Affairs. The first priest should serve in Harbin. Two more ordinations are expected. With a new Cold War as the background, the Moscow-Beijing strategic alliance also has a Church connection with the People's Republic recognising the latter’s 'political' role in Russia.
VATICAN
Pope: We and the four new saints, witnesses of the Resurrection "where forgetfulness of God and human disorientation are most evident "Francis proclaims four religious sisters saints: one French, one Italian, two Palestinians: Maria Alfonsina Danil Ghattas, the foundress of the Sisters of the Rosary, and the Carmelite Maria of Crucified Jesus (nee Maria Bawardy). Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority present. "Abiding in Christ" and cultivating “unity among us" are essential signs of witness. Maria Bawardy, "instrument of encounter and communion with the Muslim world".

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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.