The 68th annual Jerusalem March took place in the heart of the city of Jerusalem on Wednesday afternoon.
The march was originally established by the Israel Defense Forces in 1955 as a march of soldiers to the city of Jerusalem. In 1974, the march was reduced to one day, with a parade at the end, before it finally became a parade only within Jerusalem instead of a march to the city.
The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) which began its participation in the march in 1980, has made the parade a core part of its week-long Feast of Tabernacles celebration.
ICEJ has participated in every Jerusalem March since 1980, except for two years when the march was cancelled due to restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The sight of thousands of Christians walking through the streets of Jerusalem, carrying flags from their nations and signs with messages of love and support for Israel draws thousands of Israelis to the route, making it a popular annual event for local residents. Many young children can be seen collecting small flags being handed out from the different nations.
Despite recent incidents of harassment of Christians by ultra-Orthodox Jews, many Orthodox gathered to watch the march. Several handed out notes thanking the Christian marchers for coming to support Israel.
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, on the sidelines of the march, told ALL ISRAEL NEWS that he "denounced" these incidents, stressing that Jerusalem would always welcome Christian tourists.
Those who joined the Jerusalem March came from over 90 countries, including some countries with no official ties with Israel.
Iranian Christian worship leader, Vahid Norouzi, marched with the traditional Iranian flag and was warmly greeted by many Israelis.
Small groups of Christians from Egypt and Turkey also received greetings and even exchanged handshakes and hugs with several Israelis who were there to observe.
Police Chief Kobi Shabtai also attended the event, where he gave orders to officers to be aware of any incidents of harassment.
“In these days when the people of Israel come together in great numbers to celebrate and enjoy the beauty of the State of Israel, any act of religious-based hatred is a stain that tarnishes the special holiday atmosphere throughout the country,” Shabtai said regarding the recent incidents.
Shabtai also spoke with Israeli social media influencer Hananya Naftali at the march.
“Look how beautiful this is,” Shabtai said about the Christian marchers. “A very large city, with all religions, and there is freedom of worship for Jews, Christians and Muslims.”
“This is the center of the world, this is the heart of the world. It belongs to everyone and everyone is welcome,” Shabtai told Naftali.
There were no reported incidents of harassment during the march, and several of the participants told ALL ISRAEL NEWS they had not experienced anything but gratitude from Israelis during their visit to Israel.
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The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.