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Tight Security in Jerusalem on Good Friday

  • Robert Berger

Israeli security troops block Christian pilgrims along the Via Dolorosa (Way of Suffering) in Jerusalem’s Old City during the Good Friday procession on March 25, 2016.

Israeli security troops block Christian pilgrims along the Via Dolorosa (Way of Suffering) in Jerusalem’s Old City during the Good Friday procession on March 25, 2016.

Christians around the world are observing Good Friday, marking the crucifixion of Jesus.

Here in the Old City, security was tight as pilgrims from around the world marched in the traditional Good Friday procession, many of them carrying big wooden crosses.

They made their way through the narrow cobblestone streets of the Via Dolorosa, or Way of Sorrows, singing hymns and reading scripture as they visited the 14 Stations of the Cross.

Local Arab Christian pilgrims carry a wooden cross along the Via Dolorosa (Way of Suffering) in Jerusalem’s Old City during the Good Friday procession on March 25, 2016.

Local Arab Christian pilgrims carry a wooden cross along the Via Dolorosa (Way of Suffering) in Jerusalem’s Old City during the Good Friday procession on March 25, 2016.

Jacob Adeyemi, who came from Nigeria, said Jerusalem on Good Friday brings the Bible to life. "We are all happy to be here. It’s a privilege. It’s a feeling you cannot describe," he said. "Coming to see and feel the place where it really happened, it’s a great feeling."

Turnout was sparse this year in the wake of six months of violence.

Jerusalem has been the focal point of a wave of Palestinian stabbing attacks on Israelis, and Israeli police and soldiers were out in force.

Policing the procession

Israeli police forces escort Franciscan priests along the Via Dolorosa (Way of Suffering) in Jerusalem’s Old City during the Good Friday procession on March 25, 2016.

Israeli police forces escort Franciscan priests along the Via Dolorosa (Way of Suffering) in Jerusalem’s Old City during the Good Friday procession on March 25, 2016.

Italian pilgrim Emilio Carmone said Jerusalem looks like an armed camp.

"In all my life, I don’t see so many weapons like in one day here in Jerusalem," he said. "And it makes me remember that there are maybe troubles or some problems. But all the military and police presence doesn’t make me feel safer."

The procession wound up at the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the traditional site of Jesus' crucifixion. There, on Easter Sunday, Christians will celebrate the resurrection.

A picture taken with a fisheye lens shows Christian worshippers praying inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as rays of sunlight come through the top rotunda in Jerusalem’s Old City during the Good Friday procession on March 25, 2016.

A picture taken with a fisheye lens shows Christian worshippers praying inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as rays of sunlight come through the top rotunda in Jerusalem’s Old City during the Good Friday procession on March 25, 2016.

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