The New Arab Logo

Breaking News
Play Video

The New Arab & agencies

Christians celebrate Good Friday in Jerusalem

Thousands of pilgrims from around the world mark Good Friday in Jerusalem's Old City [GettyImages]

Date of publication: 14 April, 2017

Share this page:
  • 0

  • twitter
Through the Old City's narrow alleyways, pilgrims and Palestinian Christians carried wooden crosses, icons and flags of their respective countries in a procession under heavy surveillance from Israeli police.
Palestinian Christians and thousands of pilgrims from around the world marked Good Friday in Jerusalem's Old City, retracing the steps Jesus Christ is believed to have taken carrying his cross to his crucifixion.

Through the Old City's narrow alleyways, pilgrims and Palestinian Christians carried wooden crosses, icons and flags of their respective countries in a procession under heavy surveillance from Israeli police.

Like every year in the run-up to Easter, they retraced the 14 Stations of the Cross and walked to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus Christ is believed to be buried.

Inside the church, Egyptian Coptic Christian pilgrim Sameera Haleem, 52, prayed for protection for her family after deadly church bombings in her country on Palm Sunday.

"Parting with loved ones is very hard but they are martyrs," she said of the 45 people who died in the bombings in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria that were claimed by the Islamic State group.

"Copts being targeted and killed only serves to strengthen our belief," she said, as she stood by the shrine surrounding what is believed to be the tomb of Jesus, clutching a piece of paper with the names of relatives she wanted to protect.

"This sacred place is blessed beyond all sacred places," she said, tears glistening in her eyes as she tried to keep her place next to the shrine as pilgrims poured into the church.

Outside, a group of Russian nuns had stopped, carrying a portrait of Jesus surrounded by flowers.

A group of Catholic pilgrims from India wore red hoods.

Lara, an Australian Christian pilgrim, described the procession as "an amazing experience". 

"We can't be any happier, it's like a dream," she said.

The "Via Dolorosa" - or "Way of Suffering" - includes points where Jesus is said to have met his mother, fallen several times, been helped in carrying the cross, and met the lamenting women of Jerusalem.

The route is situated in East Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.

Christians made up more than 18 percent of the population of the holy land in 1948, before Israel was created, but now they number less than two percent.

They are mostly Orthodox Christians.

Israeli security forces deployed in high numbers across the city as Christian commemorations were under way for Good Friday and Jews marked the week-long Passover holiday.

Israel imposed a complete closure on the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip for the week-long holiday, barring Palestinians from entering or exiting the occupied territories.

Palestinian Christians from the West Bank and Gaza receive special permits to enter Jerusalem for Easter, where the traditional sites of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection are located in the Israeli-occupied east of the city.

Israel's army said that despite the closure Palestinian Christians with permits would be allowed to enter Jerusalem, although it is unclear how many entered the city on Friday.

Earlier on Friday, a 23-year-old British tourist was stabbed to death on a tram close to the Old City, and her Palestinian attacker arrested, police said.

The New ArabComments

Most Popular

Most Popular

    Read More