Friday 25 March 2016 was a particularly holy day in the Holy Land. Purim, celebrating the events in the book of Esther, was just finishing. Christians were commemorating Good Friday in the place where Jesus was crucified. Muslims were preparing to pray at the third holiest place in Sunni Islam. EAs’ Thor, Elaine and Katherine write from Bethlehem:
Our EAs this year provided protective presence and monitored the human rights situation throughout the Easter celebrations. In the coming days, we’ll share with you accounts of Easter 2014 in Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
by David, Lindsey, Sandra, and Lynn, Jerusalem team
This year Jewish Passover, and both the Orthodox and Western Christian Easters fell on the same week. On Good Friday, tensions rose as Christian processions along the Via Dolorosa and Muslims going on their way to Al Aqsa mosque occurred at the same time. Unrest primarily occurred near Al Aqsa when Israeli authorities restricted access to the compound to worshippers under the age of 50.
Additionally, earlier in the week, the leader of The Temple Movement, a Jewish extremist movement that wants to build a new temple, encouraged their followers to flow in and celebrate Passover at the al-Aqsa compound. When the Jewish extremists heard their call and came into the compound, violence broke out between Muslims and Israeli police. As a result, the gates leading to the mosque were closed denying men, women, and schoolchildren from entering the area. As a result of these clashes, twenty-five people were injured.
The following is a Photo Essay of Good Friday Easter 2014.
The Anglican and Lutheran churches processed through Via Dolorosa in the morning on Good Friday. Photo EAPPI/J. Valkama.
Many local Christians carried crosses as they processed the Via Dolorosa. Photo EAPPI/J. Valkama.
Women pray inside the Holy Sepulchre on Good Friday. Photo EAPPI/J. Valkama.
Thousands of pilgrims attended Good Friday processions. Photo EAPPI/J. Kaprio.
Pilgrims carry crosses as they travel the path of the Via Dolorosa on Good Friday. Israeli soldiers set up barriers throughout the Old City. Photo EAPPI/J. Kaprio.
Police stopped worshippers from traveling the Via Dolorosa on Good Friday. Photo EAPPI/J. Valkamam.
Barriers and Israeli police allowed limited access for Good Friday pilgrims. Photo EAPPI/L. Sharpe.
A woman attempts to gain access to the Via Dolorosa on Good Friday. Photo EAPPI/L. Sharpe.
Friday is also the Muslim day of worship. On this Friday, Good Friday as well as during the Jewish holiday of Passover, Israeli authorities denied access to Al Aqsa mosque for worshippers under the age of 50. Photo EAPPI/J. Kaprio.