Access to Orthodox Easter ceremony in Jerusalem limited over security concerns

Thousands of Christians in Jerusalem have celebrated the traditional Holy Fire rite ahead of the Orthodox Easter, despite a security clampdown limiting access to their most holy site.

The ancient Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where the thousand-year-old rite takes place, was built over the site where Christian tradition says Jesus Christ was crucified, buried and resurrected.

The church is in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, and for the second consecutive year Israeli police had told church leaders access would be considerably restricted.

In the past about 10,000 worshippers would fill the church for the ceremony, with many more crowding outside, but this year Israeli police limited attendance inside the church to 1,800 people, including 200 police officers.

Thousands of Palestinian worshippers and foreign pilgrims also gathered in the square outside the church, in adjacent streets and outside the walls of the Old City on Saturday.

Orthodox Christians gather with lit candles around the…

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This article was written by Agence France-Presse and originally published on