RAMALLAH, April 7 (JMCC) - Palestinians belonging to the Roman Catholic and Protestant denominations kicked off two weeks of Easter in the Holy Land on Friday, in part mourning their separation from the city of Jerusalem where the events were said to have taken place, reports the Associated Press.
In the town of Beit Jala, adjacent to Bethlehem, Palestinian Catholics re-enacted Jesus' stations of the cross in their olive groves and vineyards. Father Ibrahim Shomali led the Good Friday procession in Arabic, wearing a white tunic and purple clerical shawl. Dozens of believers followed him, bearing Palestinian flags and olivewood crosses.
Several dozen Palestinian Christians conducted prayers this year on their farmlands, which sits between two Israeli settlements and along the route of Israel's planned separation barrier, said Xavier Abueid, a Palestinian adviser.
The prayers were conducted there to highlight and protest what Palestinians say is Israel's increasing restrictions on accessing their lands, particularly in areas abutting the Jewish state and Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Palestinian grievances also are echoed by prominent rights groups working in Israel.
Israel's government said it needs to prevent Palestinian access to certain land to prevent clashes in areas where there are poor relations with Jewish settlers. In other places, Israel said it needs the land to build its separation barrier to keep out Palestinian attackers.
The Western Christian Good Friday this year coincides with the Jewish Passover holiday, which begins at sundown.
The Eastern Orthodox churches and many other churches with a presence in the Holy Land follow a different calendar and will mark Good Friday next week.
There are about 110,000 Arab Christians in the Holy land, along with thousands of Christian foreign workers, asylum seekers and Russian-speaking immigrants.