The Christian Community
There has been a Christian community in the Holy Land since the very beginning of Christianity. Although the conflict is often portrayed as a struggle against militant Islam, there is a minority Christian community who always have and continue to play an important role in Palestinian society.
This community, however, is reducing in size due to emigration from approximately 8% of the total population in 1946 to less than 2% today.
When questioned about their reasons for leaving, Palestinian Christians overwhelmingly blame the pressure and injustice of Israeli occupation for their decision to seek a new life abroad.
Thousands of Christian pilgrims from all over the world travel to Jerusalem for Pilgrimages such as during Easter and Christmas. In Easter 2019 Christian Palestinians who live no more than a few hours away from the holy city, were barred from moving between the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem. The Israeli army limited the Easter holiday travel quota to 200 Christians from Gaza who are over 55 years of age. Palestinians who were planning on visiting the holy sites or their families in the West Bank and Israel, already a rare occasion, were blocked from doing so.
“Imposing such sweeping restrictions on movement cannot be justified by security needs,” said Miriam Marmur, a media coordinator with Gisha, an Israeli rights group that focuses on freedom of movement in and out of Gaza. The decision is based on political considerations, added Marmur, and the limitations are part of Israel’s “separation policy,” which seeks to widen the divide between geographically disconnected Palestinian communities.