JERUSALEM -- Roman Catholics and Protestants in the Holy Land commemorated the crucifixion of Jesus Christ Friday in prayers and processions through Jerusalem's Old City.

In the town of Beit Jala, adjacent to Bethlehem, Palestinian Catholics re-enacted Jesus' stations of the cross in their olive groves and vineyards. Father Ibrahim Shomali led the Good Friday procession in Arabic, wearing a white tunic and purple clerical shawl. Dozens of believers followed him, bearing Palestinian flags and olivewood crosses.

Several dozen Palestinian Christians conducted prayers on their farmlands this year, which sit between two Israeli settlements and along the route of Israel's planned separation barrier, said Xavier Abueid, a Palestinian adviser, who participated in the prayers there.

The prayers were conducted there to highlight and protest what Palestinians say is Israel's increasing restrictions on accessing their lands, particularly in areas abutting the Jewish state and Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Palestinian grievances are also echoed by prominent rights groups working in Israel.

Israel's government says it needs to prevent Palestinian access to certain land to prevent clashes in areas where there are poor relations with Jewish settlers. In other places, Israel says it needs the land to build its separation barrier to keep out Palestinian attackers.

The Western Christian Good Friday this year coincides with the Jewish Passover holiday, which began at sundown. According to the Gospels, Jesus ate his last supper -- a Passover meal -- hours before he was betrayed.

In Jerusalem on Friday, Christian pilgrims filled the cobblestone alleyways of the Old City along the Via Dolorosa, Latin for the "Way of Suffering." They followed his 14 stations, ending at the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Tradition says the church was built on the site where Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.

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