BETHLEHEM, Saturday, December 5, 2020 (WAFA) – For the first time ever, the biblical city of Bethlehem in the south of the occupied West Bank, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, lit today the Christmas tree ushering in this year’s Christmas celebrations with the absence of the thousands of pilgrims and international tourists who used to attend this occasion at this times of the year.
A Christmas tree was erected in Manger Square outside the Church of Nativity in the city and was lit with only some religious leaders in attendance, in addition to Bethlehem Mayor Anton Salman, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Rola Maayah, and the Governor of Bethlehem Kamel Hamid. Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh participated virtually in the kick-start of the celebrations in a speech aired via Palestine TV.
Shtayyeh said this year brought about particular challenges due to the pandemic and the ongoing Israeli violations across the occupied territories, but said the Palestinians will not submit to the coronavirus or to the Israeli occupation.
“There is a very heavy price for the pandemic that we are experiencing both economically and commercially, but as we have always been together we will be together, and as we rose before, we will rise again,” said the Prime Minister.
Last week, the Palestinian government imposed a new nighttime lockdown to help contain a spike in coronavirus cases. Under lockdown rules, people must remain indoors from 7 pm until 6 am, and Bethlehem is included in the lockdown.
Officials say the lockdown could be extended through Christmas and into the new year if the infection levels remain high. The Health Ministry has so far reported around 110,000 coronavirus cases and around 900 deaths in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.