Christian pilgrims march through Jerusalem for Good Friday

Thousands of Christian pilgrims took part in processions along the route where according to tradition Jesus Christ carried the cross on his last day before his crucifixion. (AFP)
Updated 19 April 2019
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Christian pilgrims march through Jerusalem for Good Friday

  • The faithful carried wooden crosses on their shoulders and sang hymns to mark one of Christianity’s holiest days
  • This year’s confluence of Good Friday and the Jewish holiday of Passover has led to a festive atmosphere in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM: Thousands of Christian pilgrims and clergy members marched through the ancient stone alleys of Jerusalem’s Old City, retracing Jesus’ path to crucifixion in observation of Good Friday.
The faithful carried wooden crosses high on their shoulders and sang hymns to mark one of Christianity’s most solemn and sacred days.
The confluence of Good Friday and the Jewish holiday of Passover this year led to flocks of tourists and a festive atmosphere in the holy city.
Worshippers from all over the world marched slowly along the Via Dolorosa, the cobblestone path that cuts through the Old City, where tradition says Jesus bore the cross to his crucifixion. The pilgrims stopped at several points on the way, re-enacting symbolic moments from Jesus’ story.
The procession culminates at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Catholic and Orthodox Christians believe Jesus was buried before his resurrection on what is celebrated as Easter Sunday.
Meanwhile Friday, Jewish residents were rushing to complete their preparations for the ritual Seder dinner as the first night of Passover approached. In Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda outdoor market, a tumult of shoppers swarmed the stalls, filling their bags with ingredients for the holiday feast. Many observant Jews cleaned their homes of “chametz,” or leavened wheat, traditionally forbidden during the eight days of Passover to commemorate the Jews’ flight from slavery in Egypt, which, the story goes, didn’t allow time for dough to rise into bread. In religious neighborhoods, controlled fires of burning chametz lit up sidewalks.
In the Old City, Israeli police said they detained 10 Jewish suspects with “intentions to cause public disturbances” by smuggling goats into Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site for a ritual sacrifice. Police said they seized the goats and are questioning the suspects.
The site, revered by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and by Jews as the Temple Mount, is considered the holiest site in Judaism and third-holiest in Islam. Although Israel seized the holy plateau along with the rest of east Jerusalem in 1967, Muslim custodianship of the compound and a ban on Jewish prayer has long prevailed.
Such incidents occur every year ahead of Passover as zealots attempt to re-enact ancient animal sacrifices in the spot where the biblical Jewish Temple once stood.


Netanyahu urges rival Gantz to form unity government

Updated 22 min 16 sec ago

Netanyahu urges rival Gantz to form unity government

  • Gantz is yet to respond to the approach by Netanyahu
  • The change of strategy reflected Netanyahu’s weakened position

JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Thursday on his main rival, former general Benny Gantz, to join him in a broad, governing coalition after Israel’s election ended with no clear winner.
A spokeswoman for Gantz, leader of the centrist Blue and White party, had no immediate response to the surprise offer from Netanyahu, head of the right-wing Likud party.
The change of strategy reflected Netanyahu’s weakened position after he failed again in Tuesday’s election, which followed an inconclusive ballot in April, to secure a parliamentary majority.
“During the election campaign, I called for the establishment of a right-wing government but to my regret, the election results show that this is impossible,” Netanyahu said.
“Benny, we must set up a broad unity government, as soon as today. The nation expects us, both of us, to demonstrate responsibility and that we pursue cooperation.”
On Wednesday, Gantz said he hoped for a “good, desirable unity government.” But he has also ruled out forming one with a Netanyahu-led Likud, citing looming corruption charges against the prime minister. Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.