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Thousands celebrate Palm Sunday in Jerusalem amid war in region

Thousands of Christians celebrated Palm Sunday in Jerusalem, marking the first day of Holy Week, as the war between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas continues in the region.

On Sunday, throngs of believers took part in a traditional procession on the Mount of Olives, carrying palm fronds and olive branches in commemoration of the Biblical story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem just days before his betrayal and crucifixion. . According to the Bible, palm leaves and olive branches are the items believed to have been placed at Jesus’ feet upon his entrance.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, believed to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and his tomb, held a service earlier in the day, the Associated Press reported.

Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday, marks the beginning of the most sacred and solemn week of the Christian year. Later this week, on Friday, Christians will celebrate Good Friday (commemorating Jesus’ crucifixion and death on Calvary), and next Sunday will be Easter, commemorating Jesus’ resurrection.

According to the Associated Press, Palm Sunday typically begins with a clergyman blessing the palms and a reading from the Passion of Christ, which details the last significant moments of Jesus’ life. Christian pilgrims will carry palm leaves and olive branches as they march from the top of the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem’s historic Old City, the News Telegram added.

The celebrations took place amid escalating fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, about an hour’s drive from Jerusalem. over 32,000 Palestinians The Gaza Ministry of Health says it has not differentiated between civilian and combatant deaths since early October.

The war began more than five months ago after a surprise attack by Hamas on Israel that left 1,200 people dead and 240 kidnapped. The Israeli military has vowed to eliminate the Hamas threat from the region and claims a permanent cessation of fighting amounts to a victory for Hamas, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.

The nearby violence did not appear to disrupt Sunday’s celebrations, according to the Associated Press.

“There is a war, but my impression is that there is no tension,” David Magnini, a pilgrim from Italy, told the newswire.

“I came here because I love Jesus Christ,” said Jennifer Weeden, who traveled from the United States, according to the Associated Press.

On Sunday, one pilgrim held a placard that read: “Lord, save us.” St. Porphyrius Church and Holy Family Church in Gaza,” the newswire added.

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