Thousands of Jewish, Christian and Muslim faithful celebrated their Easter or Ramadan on Sunday April 9 in a Jerusalem under tension after yet another resurgence of violence in the Middle East.
The Israeli police 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.
Rockets fired into Syria
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 aroused a series of international condemnations.
The latest 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 “trust and mutual respect” to allow a resumption of “Dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians”.
Thousands of Jews at the Wailing Wall
In Jerusalem, several hundred faithful participated 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. Orthodox services for Palm Sunday were held at the same time in the adjoining churches and chapels.
A little further on, thousands of Jews crowded in front of the Wailing Wall for the traditional blessing of the Kohanim (“priests” in Hebrew). This blessing is recited by members of the caste of Kohanim 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 Wailing Wall, notably for Passover, celebrated this year until Wednesday. 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 an AFP journalist, 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, an increasing number of them have been visiting the esplanade in recent years, and some ultranationalists sometimes take the opportunity 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.
Two Israeli sisters victims
On Wednesday, Israeli forces twice burst into the Al-Aqsa mosque and dislodged worshipers gathered for night prayers in the middle of Ramadan. Israel claims that the security forces were “forced to act to restore order” in the face of “extremists” barricaded in the mosque with rocks and firework flares which were used against the police 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 in Gaza and southern Lebanon.
And on Friday evening, Israel announced the mobilization of reserve police units and military reinforcements, after a car bombing 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 laid to rest on 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. .