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Christians mark Good Friday in Jerusalem

April 18, 2014 8:06 P.M. (Updated: April 19, 2014 9:58 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Christian Palestinians and pilgrims from around the world made their way down the cobbled Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem Friday, where Jesus is believed to have walked to his crucifixion.

Thousands of worshipers, some bearing wooden crosses, walked through the walled Old City to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site where they believe Jesus was crucified and buried before rising from the dead three days later.

The city was also busy on Friday with Jewish worshipers celebrating the week-long festival of Passover, which commemorates the Exodus of the biblical Israelites from captivity in Egypt.

During Passover, Israeli authorities impose severe restrictions on Palestinian freedom of movement, shutting down checkpoints in and out of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for extended periods of time.

Christian Palestinians are especially affected by these closures, as they limit their ability to access holy sites in Jerusalem for the Easter holiday.

Palestinians were injured and detained in clashes that broke out across Jerusalem after Israeli police limited access to Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said men under the age of 50 were barred, but there were no restrictions on women.

Dozens of Palestinians were wounded in clashes with police at the site on Wednesday and Sunday after Jewish visitors were allowed onto the compound.

About 100 Muslim worshipers have decided to stay inside the compound day and night after right-wing Jewish organizations urged Jews to flock to the compound which they believe is the site of a former Jewish temple and slaughter their Passover sacrifices inside.

Jewish fringe groups have vowed to rebuild a temple on the site, but Israeli political and religious authorities have repeatedly dismissed the idea.

Because of the sensitive nature of the Al-Aqsa compound, Israel maintains a compromise with the Islamic trust that controls it to not allow non-Muslim prayers in the area. Israeli forces regularly escort Jewish visitors to the site, leading to tension with Palestinian worshipers.

The compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque and is the third holiest site in Islam.

Al-Aqsa is located in East Jerusalem, a part of the internationally recognized Palestinian territories that have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.

AFP contributed to this report
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