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Dead Silence In Bethlehem, The Birthplace of Jesus Amid Christmas Celebrations Worldwide; Know Why

Afterward, Israel seized control of the West Bank. However, Palestinians still aspire to have it as their independent state in the future.

Edited By : News24 Desk | Updated: Dec 25, 2023 17:39 IST
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The entire world is immersed in the celebration of Christmas today. However, there is silence prevailing in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ. In the history of hundreds of years, for the first time in 2023, there is no celebration on Christmas Day in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Lord Jesus. Neither is there any decoration nor have any tourists come for the celebration. The entire Bethlehem is deserted. Perhaps even Lord Jesus never thought that one day such a time would come when there would be no one to celebrate Christmas at his birthplace. But what is the reason for the silence on Christmas Day at the birthplace of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem this time? When we learn the reason, tears will flow from our eyes.

In a first in centuries, there is no celebration of Christmas in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ. The silence is attributed to the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, leading to an unusual emptiness in Bethlehem. Traditionally bustling with tourists during Christmas, the town remains deserted this year, devoid of any festive decorations or celebrations. The Church of the Nativity, believed to be the birthplace of Jesus, usually attracts visitors, but this time, the conflict has cast a shadow over the usual Christmas fervor. The absence of tourists and the unique silence in Bethlehem are unprecedented in its long history.

The Israel-Hamas conflict in the Israeli-occupied West Bank has instilled fear among tourists and pilgrims, leaving hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops deserted. Reports of increased violence in southern Israel following Hamas attacks, Israeli military strikes on Gaza, and unrest in the West Bank have been making global headlines since October 7. This has led to a widespread sense of fear among tourists worldwide. Business owners in Bethlehem report a significant decline in visitors, with one saying, “We have no guests. Not a single one.” A businessperson, whose family has been residing and working in Bethlehem for generations, mentioned, “This is the worst Christmas so far.”

People have expressed that for the first time, Bethlehem is closed on Christmas. There are no Christmas trees, no joy, and no Christmas spirit. Located just south of Jerusalem, Bethlehem relies heavily on visitors coming from around the world for employment, especially those who come to see the Church of the Nativity. Christians believe that this is the place where Jesus was born. Before the attacks on Israel on October 7, hotels in Bethlehem were fully booked for Christmas. Others were searching for rooms outside the city because hotels were fully occupied. However, everything changed since the conflict began. Since the onset of the war, everyone has canceled their bookings, including those for the next year.

In the year 1967, a fierce war took place between Israel and neighboring Arab countries. Afterward, Israel seized control of the West Bank. However, Palestinians still aspire to have it as their independent state in the future. Israel has established Jewish settlements throughout the region, which most countries consider illegal. While Israel argues the historical and biblical connections to the land, many ministers of Israel reside in these settlements and support its expansion. Since October 7, the number of Jews settling in the West Bank has increased. Despite being a significant center for Christmas celebrations, Manger Square in Bethlehem, in front of the Church of the Nativity, is quiet and nearly empty this time. The nearby streets, usually bustling with souvenir shops, are also deserted, with all of them closed this year.

 

First published on: Dec 25, 2023 05:30 PM IST

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