In Jerusalem, Jewish, Christian and Muslim celebrations under tight security
JERUSALEM | Thousands of faithful Jews, Christians and Muslims celebrated their Passover or Ramadan on Sunday in a Jerusalem under tension after yet another resurgence of violence in the Middle East.
The Israeli police had deployed in force on Sunday in the Old City, a place of friction between the three monotheisms, in the eastern part of Jerusalem, annexed by Israel, and the day passed without major incident.
Deadly attacks, rocket attacks from Gaza, Lebanon and Syria, followed by Israeli reprisals: the region is once again inflamed after the brutal irruption on Wednesday of Israeli forces in the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem , the third holiest site in Islam, having sparked a series of international condemnations.
Last episode to date, the Israeli army announced on Saturday evening that it had struck Syria in response to rocket fire towards the part of the Golan Heights annexed by Israel.
From Rome, Pope Francis expressed his “deep concern because of the attacks of recent days”, and wished for a climate of “trust and mutual respect” to allow a resumption of “dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians”.
In Jerusalem, several hundred faithful took part in the Easter mass according to the Latin rite at the Holy Sepulchre, in the hubbub characteristic of this holy place disputed between the different Christian denominations.
Des Orthodox services for Palm Sunday were held at the same time in the adjoining churches and chapels.
“I think that Jesus and God suffer from seeing us divided among Christians, even here we are divided, unfortunately,” said Sister Elisabeth, a missionary from Chad who discovered for the first time the church built on the site. where the crucifixion, entombment and resurrection of Jesus took place, according to Christian tradition.
A little further on, thousands of Jews crowded in front of the Wailing Wall for the traditional blessing of the Cohanim (priests, in Hebrew).
This blessing is recited by members of the Cohanim caste who, according to tradition, are descended from the priests who officiated at the Temple in Jerusalem until its destruction in 70 AD. J.-C..
Today, the “blessing of the priests” takes place twice a year at the Western Wall, notably for the Jewish Passover, celebrated this year until Wednesday.
“I feel that God is going to protect us, we all pray together as one people,” said Jewish worshiper Judy Green 60 years old.
A remnant of the ancient temple, the Wailing Wall is located below the Esplanade of the Mosques built on what the Jews call the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.
According to a journalist AFP, more than 500 Jews came to visit the esplanade of the Mosques on Sunday morning, under police escort while Muslims prayed there for Ramadan, without any clashes.
Defying the rabbinate's ban that Jews are not allowed to visit the Temple Mount, increasing numbers have been visiting the esplanade in recent years, with some ultranationalists taking advantage sometimes to pray there surreptitiously.
These visits frequently create tension with Palestinian Muslim worshipers who fear that Israel is trying to change the rules governing access to the place, which the Israeli government denies .
The situation “is not very good,” said Mahmoud Mansour, a 65-year-old Palestinian from Jerusalem, on the esplanade, feeling the visits as an attempt “to put Muslims aside”.
< strong>“Peace, one day”
“But we are fighting and we hope […] that one day there will be peace in Jerusalem”, adds- he.
On Wednesday, Israeli forces twice burst into the Al-Aqsa Mosque and dislodged worshipers gathered for night prayers, in the middle of Ramadan.
Israel says law enforcement was 'forced to act to restore order' in the face of 'extremists' barricaded in the mosque with rocks and fireworks rockets which were used against police officers during their assault.
The next day, around 30 rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israel, injuring one person and causing material damage. The Israeli army retaliated by carrying out strikes on Gaza and southern Lebanon.
And on Friday evening, Israel announced the mobilization of reserve police units and military reinforcements, after an attack to the ramming car in Tel Aviv that claimed the life of an Italian tourist, and the death of two Israeli sisters aged 16 and 20 in an attack in the West Bank.
The two sisters were brought to land Sunday afternoon in Kfar Etzion, an Israeli settlement in the southern West Bank, a few hours after the funeral of a young Palestinian killed the day before by the Israeli army in this territory occupied by Israel since 1967.