The city that Christians believe Jesus was born in is usually the center of the holidays, with thousands of people filling the streets and hotels.
Musicians playing drums and bagpipes marched through the biblical town of Bethlehem at Christmas celebrations, delighting a smaller crowd than usual for a pandemic.
The Bethlehem scene on Friday was reflected in the worldwide celebrations of the Second Christmas Eve, weakened by the coronavirus.
A travel ban imposed by Israel, the main entrance for foreign tourists to the occupied West Bank, the birthplace of Jesus, has kept foreign tourists away for the second year. rice field.
The ban on almost all influx air traffic was aimed at delaying the spread of highly contagious Omicron variants. In the absence of tourists, local governments expected a small Christian community to rejuvenate.
Bethlehem Mayor Anton Salman said, “Last year was a virtual festival, but this year we will be facing popular participants,” and optimistic that the celebration will be better than last Christmas. increase.
This year, hundreds of people gathered in Manger Square in the center of the town, and bagpipe and drum bands were flowing through the area.
The best Roman Catholic priest, Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, also attended the celebration, waving to those who wished as his convoy passed through the town.
“This year, many people are very crowded and see a lot of joy,” he said before entering the Church of Nativity in preparation for the Midnight Mass.
The loss of international tourism, the lifeblood of Bethlehem’s economy, has hit hotels, restaurants and gift shops in particular.
“Under normal conditions at this time of the year, I usually have a 20-meter row outside,” said Adil Abunayaf, owner of an empty stall at Manger Square.
A small but close community of more than 200,000 Christians accounts for an estimated 1% to 2% of the population of Israel and the occupied West Bank.
There are thousands of foreign workers and African immigrants as well as diplomats and journalists.
Source: TRT World and distributors
https://www.trtworld.com/art-culture/in-pictures-bethlehem-marks-christmas-eve-amid-covid-measures-52983?utm_source=other&utm_medium=rss Bethlehem marks Christmas Eve in anti-covid