Only a few dozen people turned out to light a Christmas tree in the city of Bethlehem on Saturday night because coronavirus restrictions have reduced the annual event, which is usually attended by thousands.
A small group of residents and religious elders attended a tree-lighting ceremony at Manger Square near the Church of the Nativity, where Christians believe Jesus was born. Others actually saw it because of the sanctions that triggered the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some officials – including Palestinian National Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayya – attended in person and addressed event attendees who watch online.
“The Palestinian leadership is” receiving a new year with a determination to confront, “Shtayya said [Israeli] He said the occupation was “more intense” and ended an internal political split with the rival militant group Hamas. “
Bethlehem Mayor Anton Salman said this year will be celebrated in a timeless way before Christmas.
“We have resorted to modern technology and the virtual world to celebrate the light of the Christmas tree. We want hope and optimism to fly over Palestine and the world,” Salman said.
Thousands of travelers and tourists usually visit Bethlehem, fill up hotels and dine at restaurants during the Christmas season, and the area needs a lot of cash.