COVID, Rain Dampen Christmas Eve Celebration in Bethlehem This Year (VIDEO REPORT)
Despite the cold, rainy weather, the scene in Bethlehem, on the West Bank this Christmas Eve was different from that of a year ago, with people allowed to attend the celebration, the mostly Palestinian crowd filled Manger Square, though just barely.
Hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops in the Palestinian city reported a sharp decrease in business for the second year in a row, due to coronavirus closures that halted the arrival of foreign tourists and pilgrims.
Losses are estimated to exceed $3 billion over the past two years, devastating the economy of the traditional birthplace of Jesus.
Bethlehem Mayor Anton Salman’s face was beaming with pride as he watched the hundreds of people enjoying the celebrations.
“From the faces around, you can see the joy and happiness. We are very proud to succeed in organizing this day,” Salman told The Media Line.
Foreign visitors are rare, but Daphni, a Canadian who works in the Palestinian territories, came with her colleagues to watch the festivities.
“It’s wonderful to be here in Bethlehem. We are enjoying Christmas Eve. It’s very special to be here. I’m from Canada; they are from Argentina, Spain and France,” she told The Media Line.