Few walk the Via Dolorosa in the city of the shadow of war

Few walk the Via Dolorosa in the city of the


Believers follow the Via Dolorosa on Jesus’ final walk to the cross.

But the shadow of the Gaza war rests heavily over Jerusalem.

Thousands of Christians usually walk through the narrow streets of Jerusalem’s old city, they follow Jesus walking with the cross in procession on Good Friday.

But this year there were only a few hundred, many of them Palestinian Christian Jerusalemites. The security arrangements were extensive in the labyrinth of narrow streets where at the same time Muslims gathered for Friday prayers at al-Aqsa Mosque during the fasting month of Ramadan.

– We wait for this every year, said Munira Kamar who stood by the side of an annual procession of young Palestinian scouts. The group stopped at all 14 stations representing the crucifixion of Jesus.

– But this year nothing is the same, we are unhappy about the situation with the ongoing war, Kamar continued.

Her young daughter received a kiss on the cheek from one of the young men symbolically carrying a cross.

New roads

Israeli police had set up barricades to demarcate the road to Golgotha, the road known as the Via Dolorosa. New routes were created for the local residents and tourists who sought the Arab market next to the processional route.

Many Christian Palestinians from the West Bank could not make it to Jerusalem on Good Friday, as special permits are required to make the trip.

– Compared to last year’s Easter celebration, it is like night and day. Nobody is here except the locals, said shopkeeper Fayaz Dakkak whose family opened the shop in Jerusalem’s Old Quarter in 1942.

– Usually many people are happy during Easter, and the children are excited. But when you think about the children here who have water and food and a family, and then you think about what is happening in Gaza – how can you be happy?, said Dakkak to the AFP news agency’s journalist in Jerusalem.

Praying for peace

There are about 50,000 Christian Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank, according to a 2022 US State Department Religious Freedom Report. Many of them are also Israeli citizens. About 1,300 Christians lived in Gaza, before the terror-labeled Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 and the subsequent Israeli military offensive against Hamas in Gaza – where civilians are now enduring a hell of war.

Sister Harriet Kabaije, who has made a pilgrimage from her native Uganda to Jerusalem, told the AP news agency reporter that she carries the people of Gaza in her prayers as she now follows Jesus’ last walk:

– We know that people are suffering in Gaza, so we pray for them and pray that peace can return to this country.