- Title: Festive atmosphere in Bethlehem amid tight security on Christmas eve
- Date: 24th December 2019
- Summary: BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK (DECEMBER 24, 2019) (REUTERS) BETHLEHEM CITY BEFORE SUNRISE CHURCH OF NATIVITY PRE-DAWN CROSS ON THE CHURCH OF NATIVITY / SUNRISE VARIOUS OF SUNRISE OVER CHURCH OF NATIVITY BETHLEHEM CITY, AS SUN RISES LIGHTS ON CHURCH OF NATIVITY SUNRISE OVER BETHLEHEM VARIOUS OF PALESTINIAN POLICEMEN AT MANGER SQUARE AS PART OF THE PREPARATIONS FOR CHRISTMAS POLICEMEN GATHERING AT MANGER SQUARE SECURITY FORCES DEPLOYED OUTSIDE CHURCH OF NATIVITY / PALESTINIAN MINISTER OF TOURISM RULA MA'AYAH, WALKING IN MANGER SQUARE DECORATIONS IN MANGER SQUARE (SOUNDBITE) (English) PALESTINIAN MINISTER OF TOURISM, RULA MA'AYAH, SAYING: "Bethlehem is ready, Bethlehem is the birthplace of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are a few metres away from the Nativity Church, where the whole world now is looking toward Bethlehem, towards the Nativity Church. Of course, this year we received more tourists than last year." TOURISTS GATHERING INSIDE CHURCH OF NATIVITY TOUR GUIDE GIVING HISTORICAL INFORMATION TO TOURISTS (SOUNDBITE) (English) PALESTINIAN MINISTER OF TOURISM, RULA MA'AYAH, SAYING: "Every year we have a message for Christmas, this year our message was Christmas is a message of joy because we believe that when Jesus Christ was born more than 2,000 years ago it was a joy for the humanity in general. And every year when we celebrate Christmas, it is a message of joy to everybody." BELLS OF THE CHURCH OF NATIVITY 17 (SOUNDBITE) (English) TOURIST FROM BULGARIA, DENITSA PENEVA, SAYING: "It's a great moment for me because it's most popular holiday in my religion so it's amazing feeling to be here on the Christmas. It's really really great feeling." TOURISTS WALKING TOWARDS CHURCH OF NATIVITY (SOUNDBITE) (English) TOURIST FROM SPAIN, PABLO GARCÃA BAUTISTA, SAYING: "The situation is completely different. In Madrid, you feel the Christmas really into, but here in the place where Jesus was born it's another vibe. It's completely different for someone who doesn't live here. Well it means like living in the epicentre, in the exact place and not just at home where your family is, I am travelling alone. So it's kind of different but really in the exact place where I should be." TOURISTS WALKING OUT FROM NATIVITY CHURCH
- Embargoed: 7th January 2020 09:20
- Keywords: Bethlehem Christmas Manger square church of nativity pilgrims security
- Location: BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK
- City: BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK
- Country: Palestinian Territories
- Topics: Religion/Belief,Society/Social Issues,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA001BBC4MRR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Worshippers and tourists gathered on Tuesday (December 24) near Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, the site revered as the birthplace of Jesus, as the biblical West Bank city prepared for Christmas Eve mass.
Filing past a 16-metre Christmas tree in Manger Square, pilgrims walk through the narrow sandstone entrance to the centuries-old basilica whose grotto, Christians believe, is where Jesus was born.
Hundreds of Palestinian security men were positioned in and around the town, ahead of the planned arrival of the acting Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, to lead midnight mass in the Church of the Nativity.
The Palestinian Minister of Tourism, Rula Ma'ayah, said that around 2.7 million tourists visited the Palestinian Territories this year.
Bethlehem is enjoying its busiest Christmas season on record, the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism said, with hotels in the city almost fully booked for the holiday.
(Production: Mohammed Abu Ganeyeh/Mustafa Abu Ganeyeh/Roleen Tafakji)
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