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Israeli checkpoints disrupt Palestinian Catholic parish life

Palestinian parishioners of St James Church in Jerusalem have learned to adapt to the unpredictability of Israeli-imposed checkpoints.

But for several weeks in March, the seemingly random rules of the checkpoint in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Beit Hanina have affected some parishioners' ability to return home after Mass.

The church, part of the Terra Sancta Centre complex, is located on the northbound side of the Jerusalem-Ramallah road on which the Israeli checkpoint is set up. A median divides the northbound and southbound lanes.

Until recently, Israeli border police allowed parishioners to make U-turns in front of the checkpoint in order to return to their homes in Jerusalem on the southbound lanes. But recently, parishioners have sometimes been forced to drive through the checkpoint and take a 35 km detour to return to Jerusalem, or to pass through the checkpoint, then turn around and return southbound through it, which often takes more than an hour.

Parish life disrupted for Palestinians by Israeli-imposed checkpoints (Catholic News Service 30/3/04)

What Is It Like to Be a Palestinian Christian? (Beliefnet)

32 Apr 2004