Thousands of Christians banned by Israel from entering Bethlehem for Christmas

Nel Burden, Press TV, Bethlehem
  • Christians from around the world flock to Jesus’s birthplace in Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas in the Holy Land. Although the day was a jubilant occasion marked by concerts and celebrations, Palestinians had more serious concerns. Nel Burden tells us more.
Christians from around the world flocked to Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas. The festivities were marked with marching Palestinian bands, concerts and the coming of the Latin Patriarch, a yearly ritual where he makes his pilgrimage from Jerusalem al Quds to Bethlehem to conduct prayers in the Church of Nativity.

However the Palestinian Minister of Tourism Rula Ma’ay’a explained to me that although thousands of Christians are coming from around the world to Bethlehem for Christmas, there are serious challenges for people living in Gaza, as Israel often banns them from entering Bethlehem.I spoke to a Muslim from South Africa who complained that the Israeli soldiers forced her to wait at the border for 2 days before griving her a one-week entry visa to Bethlehem. We were stuck at the Israeli border for days they didn;’t want to let us pass but the next day they said okay and let us pass. That was the only issue we had.The Minister of tourism further explained among other challenges that the people of Bethlehem face this year as a result of Israeli occupation is being surrounded by an 8 foot wall and surrounded by 4 settlements which are rapidly expanding into their land. Thousands of people from around the world have come here to Manger Square to celebrate Christmas. However the minister of tourism said that although Christians have come from around the world, hundreds from Gaza and throughout the Middle East have been banned from entering the holy land this Christmas.

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