Christians celebrate Easter in Jerusalem's Old City - in pictures

Israel has reopened religious sites, restaurants and hotels after one of the world's most successful vaccination drives

Christians in Jerusalem came together to celebrate Easter this year in a sign the coronavirus pandemic is winding down.

Religious sites in Jerusalem were open but there were none of the mass pilgrimages usually seen in the Holy Week leading up to Easter.

Last year, Jerusalem was under a strict lockdown but more than half of Israel's population has now been vaccinated against the virus.

This year, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, died and rose from the dead, is open to visitors with masks and social distancing.

Franciscan friars in brown robes led hundreds of worshippers down the Via Dolorosa on Good Friday, retracing what tradition holds were Jesus’ final steps, while reciting prayers through loudspeakers at the Stations of the Cross.

Another group carried a wooden cross along the route through the Old City, singing hymns and pausing to offer prayers.

Israel has launched one of the world’s most successful vaccination campaigns, allowing it to reopen restaurants, hotels and religious sites.

But air travel is still limited by quarantine and other restrictions, keeping away the foreign pilgrims who usually descend on Jerusalem during Holy Week.

Israeli authorities said up to 5,000 Christian Palestinians from the West Bank would be permitted to enter for Easter celebrations.

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