The Saint Helena Chapel, the Egyptian part of Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulcher, has barred entry to a number of Egyptian Christians who had traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate Easter.
On Saturday the chapel's Priest Misael said that late Coptic Pope Shenouda III's ban on Copts visiting Jerusalem must still be respected, and said the visitors were not allowed to pray or break their fast, which angered them, according to MENA.
On Friday, two planes arrived at the Ben Gurion Airport carrying Egyptian Copts wishing to visit Jerusalem's holy sites and participate in the Easter celebrations.
Commentators say that this is the first time Coptic Christians have flown directly from Egypt to Israel in order to visit the Christian holy sites.
For years Shenouda banned Copts from visiting Jerusalem and the holy sites because of his opposition to the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem. He is quoted as having said “Copts will only enter Jerusalem hand-in-hand with their Muslim brothers.”
Saying that not that many Egyptians wanted to visit the church, Misael added that the late pope's instructions are still being respected. “We have to respect them in his absence more than in his presence,” he said.