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Thousands of Christian pilgrims mark Easter in Jerusalem

Thousands of Christian pilgrims mark Easter in Jerusalem

Thousands of Christian pilgrims streamed into Jerusalem's cavernous Church of the Holy Sepulchre to celebrate Easter Sunday at the traditional site of Jesus's crucifixion and burial. Incense filled the air as Western and Orthodox pilgrims packed into the labyrinthine maze of chapels and crypts lit by thousands of candles as services were held at the grotto where Jesus is believed to have risen from the dead.
Women in shawls knelt to kiss the stone where Jesus's body is believed to have been prepared for burial as bearded monks in long black robes watched over visitors making their way through Christianity's holiest site.
The centuries-old church is shared uneasily by six denominations of Jesus Christ's followers - Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Egyptian Copts, Syrian Orthodox and Ethiopian Orthodox.
In previous years Israeli police have had to rush into the church to break up fist fights between rival monks over alleged attempts to alter a delicate status quo hammered out over centuries, but this year calm prevailed.
Israeli police had stepped up security across the walled Old City during holy week, when thousands of pilgrims trace Jesus's final steps through the winding cobblestone streets of the city.
Israel maintained a general closure of the West Bank imposed for the weeklong Jewish Passover holiday but the military said it issued more than 10,000 permits allowing Palestinian Christians to enter for up to two weeks. Another 500 Christians from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, about a fourth of the territory's tiny non-Muslim minority, were also granted permits to travel to Israel and the West Bank, according to the military.
The Palestinians have however complained of restrictions, including long waits at the hundreds of checkpoints scattered across the occupied territory.


Updated : 2020-12-03 07:01 GMT+08:00