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A bit of air

Contributed by Toine Van Teeffelen on 13.04.2014:

Toine van Teeffelen

13 April 2014

It is Easter season. The permits to visit Jerusalem come late. Is that related to the stagnating “peace process”? After the Palestinian Authority signed up to a number of international human rights treaties Israel announced “sanctions” as a response to this “unilateral step.” But which peace process considers signing op to the rights of children, the handicapped and other vulnerable groups as a threat to peace – people ask themselves.

Jara receives a permit, contrary to last year’s Easter; Mary and her sister not (yet?)

Last week Mary said that she did not expect a wholesale refusal of permits; after all, the Pope was coming at the end of May. In fact, the normal “’eed” [feast – of Easter] is not mentioned on the permits issued now, instead ‘papal visit’ is used as justification. Until now the number of Christians receiving permits seems less than last year.

Moreover, it is not sure whether you will reach the Holy Sepulchre Church when obtaining a permit. In the days of the Jewish Pesach, next week, Jerusalem is usually closed for Palestinians from the West Bank, also for those who do have a permit. And last year many could not reach the Church itself due to the closure of surrounding streets. We have to see what happens the coming days.

Mary says that from the very beginning it was not a good idea of the churches to become an intermediary or a kind of “facilitator” in the permit system. It was not good to comply with the practice to have believers picking up Israeli permits in churches so as to be able to make use of what in fact is a fundamental right. “But I do understand why they did it. People need a little bit of air.”

Last Friday the sportive amongs us made use of that other little bit of air that is available in Bethlehem and environment. The marathon of Bethlehem, titled “Right to Movement,” was joined by 2500 persons, among them 700 foreigners. They ran or trudged or walked along the Wall around Rachel’s Tomb, through Aida camp, then to the south, towards Al Khader and the Pools of Solomon, and back. It wasn’t easy to find a suitable route with al those checkpoints, blockades, and roads controlled by Israelis (“area C”). Runners from Gaza did not got permission to join. At the beginning Israeli jets flew over the city, to have their presence heard.

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