Know More About Palestine

Monday April 5, 2010 10:59 AM (EST+7)
Local touch absent from Easter celebrations

Read more: Easter, Palestinian Christians, Jerusalem

JERUSALEM, Apr. 4 (JMCC) – Throngs of pilgrims and eager tourists crowded the Old City of Jerusalem over the weekend to celebrate the Christian holiday of Easter.

On Saturday evening, Holy Fire celebrations—symbolizing the resurrection of Christ—carried over into the night as hundreds of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians gathered in a lively procession of dancing and lighting candles while others chanted and played drums, and locals enjoyed the show from the surrounding rooftops.

“It was such a beautiful display of faith,” says Katherine Harmon, a tourist visiting from Ireland. “I had never seen anything like it where I come from and the way people worship.”

On Easter Sunday, pilgrims from all over the world marked what they believe to be the anniversary of the resurrection of Jesus Christ at churches and holy sites throughout the city.

At Jerusalem's most venerated Christian site, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre—the place where Jesus was believed to be crucified and buried—several religious denominations who share the Church in a complicated and often unstable arrangement, came together for the first time to commemorate the Easter celebration on the same day.

“It is a very nice thing celebrating Easter in the Holy Land, especially because they chose to combine the Orthodox and Catholic Easters,” said Laure Zalzberg, a French national currently living in the city.


Yet, not all Christians were free to worship in Jerusalem this Easter. Most of the country's indigenous Palestinian Christians living outside of the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, were barred from freely entering the Old City.

According to an earlier report, Israel says it issued 10,000 permits to Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza in 2010. However, because Easter and the Jewish holiday of Passover overlapped this year, Palestinians from the West Bank were largely prevented from entering Jerusalem by Israeli security.

Palestinians claim they have been denied free worship at their holy sites by Israel for years. Christians usually have it a bit easier than their Muslim compatriots, but this year the old city was noticeably empty of Palestinian worshippers during the Easter holiday.

“It is a shame, that the people with the strongest roots to the city are not really here to carry on their tradition,” exclaims Harmon.







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