Priest Gabriel Romanelli smiled, as he welcomed Palestinian churchgoers to a traditional Easter Mass in Gaza City.
“We are very happy this year because we celebrate the holy Easter, the resurrection of the lord, with the community,” Romanelli told Fox News.
The Catholic Cleric is one of around 1,000 Christians out of 2 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip.
Last year the group had to worship at home amid the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. This year, they could gather while maintaining social distance and wearing masks.
Hamas, the group in control of Gaza, is implementing rolling lockdowns and curfews to slow the spread of disease. They have issued safety guidelines for mosques and churches, but are allowing services to take place.
“We are also very proud of the small Christian community in Gaza, who enjoys our love, appreciation and full support,” Senior Hamas official Dr. Basim Naim said.
Gaza is still fighting rising numbers of the deadly virus, with nearly 60,000 total cases reported and more than 600 deaths.
Palestinian officials have called on the international community for increased aid during the pandemic. Many of the same officials continue to demand more movement from Israel.
Romanelli echoed those calls today after permits for Gazans to travel to Jerusalem for Easter were denied.
An Israeli security source confirmed that no permits were given to Gazans this year to visit Jerusalem during Easter. That source added the decision was made due to the global outbreak of coronavirus.