In photos: Palestinian Christians welcome Easter’s ‘Holy Fire’ to Gaza

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     Easter fireworks display at Gaza’s Church of Saint Porphyrius, Palestine  May 5, 2013             (Photo: Joe Catron)

Greek Orthodox Christians marked the beginning of Easter Sunday with a four-hour midnight service in Gaza’s 1,606-year-old Church of Saint Porphyrius.

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(Photo: Joe Catron)

On Friday, Israeli occupation authorities turned “dozens” of church members back from the Beit Hanoun checkpoint, despite their permits to spend Easter in the West Bank.

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(Photo: Joe Catron)

Those who reached Jerusalem faced “a battle camp scenario,” Hanna Amireh, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee and head of the Presidential Committee on Church Affairs, told the AFP.

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(Photo: Joe Catron)

“It is not only that Israel has isolated our occupied capital from the rest of our country – forcing our people to apply for special military permits to access their families and holy places for religious occasions – but even Palestinians from Jerusalem were beaten when trying to reach the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,” Amireh said. “Even praying has become an act of resistance for Palestinians.”

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(Photo: Joe Catron)

Under attack in Jerusalem and siege in Gaza, the Holy Fire ceremony proceeded, as a flame believed to be miraculously produced in Church of the Holy Sepulchre was quickly spread to Greek Orthodox and other Eastern Christian believers across the world.

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(Photo: Joe Catron)

This year Roman Catholics in Gaza celebrated Easter according to the Orthodox calendar as a show of Christian unity, and many whose service at Holy Family Church had ended earlier joined the gathering at Saint Porphyrius.

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(Photo: Joe Catron)

The event culminated with a spirited rally and fireworks display in the church’s courtyard at midnight, but continued for several hours into the early morning.

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(Photo: Joe Catron)
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It’s really disheartening to me that the American Christian community has not only turned its back on the oppression of fellow Christians in Jesus’ own Holy Land, but have actively aided the oppressors. Christendom used to not take this kind of oppression of its own by other religions without swords… Read more »

Happy Paskha!
Or as Palestinian Christians say:
Al-Masikh Qam!