- Title: WEST BANK: BETHLEHEM STARTS SUBDUED COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS
- Date: 2nd December 2003
- Summary: (EU) BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK (NOVEMBER 30, 2003) (REUTERS) 1. SCU CLOWN AT CHRISTMAS MARKET ENTERTAINING CHILDREN; CHILDREN STANDING NEXT TO CLOWN AT MARKET AT MANGER SQUARE NEAR CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY, BELIEVED TO BE BIRTHPLACE OF JESUS 0.18 2. SLV/MV PEOPLE AT CHRISTMAS MARKET (4 SHOTS) 0.45 3. MV CHILDREN AT MARKET (4 SHOTS) 1.14 4. WIDE OF MARKET; EMPTY STREETS 1.24 5. SLV POSTER WITH STILL PHOTOGRAPH OF PALESTINIAN GIRL KILLED BY TROOPS DURING UPRISING 1.30 6. SCU ABU FARES, BETHLEHEM SHOPKEEPER LOCKING DOOR OF HIS SOUVENIR SHOP 1.49 7. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ABU FARES, SHOPKEEPER, SAYING "Today is almost dead. Nothing. But before they (tourists) used to come in large groups." 2.01 8. MV FEMALE TOURIST IN SHOP OF GEORGE GIACAMAN, BETHLEHEM SHOP OWNER 2.08 9. SCU /MV TOURIST IN SHOP 2.18 10. (SOUNDBITE) (English) GIACAMAN SAYING "The last three years is horrible. No tourists and we are a few days before Christmas and nobody." 2.25 11. MV TOURISTS OUTSIDE SHOP 2.31 12. SLV SUNDAY MASS IN PROGRESS (4 SHOTS) 2.51 13. MV BETHLEHEM MAYOR HANA NASER STANDING INFRONT OF 'BETHLEHEM PEACE CENTRE' (3 SHOTS) 3.09 14. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BETHLEHEM MAYOR, HANA NASER SAYING "My message to the people of Bethlehem is to have more patience and to not lose hope and to continue surviving in this city." 3.23 15. SLV EMPTY ROADS AND CLOSED SHOPS 3.30 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Embargoed: 17th December 2003 12:00
- Location: BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK
- Country: Palestinian Territories
- Reuters ID: LVA5WC50F1RZOBBB114KBXGVI15K
- Story Text: Bethlehem starts subdued countdown to Christmas.
Palestinians in Bethlehem began preparing for
Christmas on Sunday (November 30) as hundreds flocked to
the Christmas market in Manger Square, outside the Church
of the Nativity.
While families shopped for presents and children watched
as a clown entertained, the atmosphere in Bethlehem seemed
more subdued after three years into a Palestinian uprising
that has brought misery and decline to the West Bank city
revered as the birthplace of Jesus.
No more than a handful of tourists walk along the
pretty stone streets where throngs of pilgrims once gave
Bethlehem its economic lifeblood.
Fading posters of ammunition-draped "martyrs" from the
earlier days of the uprising decorate alleys of shuttered
stores that no longer open to sell their olive-wood crib
scenes and crowns of thorns.
"Today is almost dead. Nothing. But before they
(tourists) used to come in large groups" a Bethlehem, shop
keeper, Abu Fares said.
There are faint hints of promise for
Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking after a spell of relative
calm. There is talk of reviving a stalled U.S.-backed road
map and Palestinian militants discuss a new truce in Cairo
New Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie has dampened
hopes of an early meeting with Israeli counterpart Ariel
Sharon, though, saying Israel must first stop building a
separation barrier that cuts deep into the occupied West
The Israelis say they want the barrier of concrete and
wire, just visible from Bethlehem's bell-towers and
minarets, to stop suicide bombers. Palestinians call it an
attempt to draw a border through land seized in the 1967
Middle East war.
"The last three years is horrible...we are a few days
before Christmas and nobody" said George Ciacaman, another
Whether talks happen or not, it will be too late to
stop the flood of Palestinian Christians leaving Bethlehem
in search of better prospects.
Christians tend to find it easier than the West Bank's
Muslim majority to win foreign residency, and the fact that
Christian families are well established abroad gives those
who want to leave somewhere to go.
Incense drifted on Sunday through a church that was far
from packed and where many of the worshippers were too old
to contemplate starting again in another country.
"My message to the people of Bethlehem is to have more
patience and to not loose hope and to continue surviving in
this city" said mayor of Bethlehem Hana Naser.
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