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Bethlehem to hold midnight mass without public

/ 05:30 AM December 11, 2020
Bethlehem to hold midnight mass without public

A picture taken on December 5, 2020, shows the Christmas tree after a lighting ceremony in the biblical city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, closed to the public due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. – Bethlehem lit up its Christmas tree evening on December 5 but without the usual crowds, as novel coronavirus restrictions put a damper on the start of Christmas festivities in the holy city. Palestinian authorities had the prior week announced measures, including a night-time curfew, across the Israeli-occupied West Bank for 14 days to fight a “worrying spread” of the virus. (Photo by Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP)

Ramallah, Palestinian Territories Christmas mass in Bethlehem, normally attended by Christian congregations in the West Bank village, will be closed to the public this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Palestinian president said Thursday.

Each year, hundreds of believers attend midnight mass at the Saint Catherine Church next to the Church of the Nativity, built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was born.

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“Due to the pandemic and for the security of all, the midnight mass will be reserved for clerics and the mass will be broadcast on Palestine TV worldwide,” Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said.

He was speaking in an interview with church officials in Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority.

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Days before, the PA imposed a new lockdown in several governorates in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and extended a curfew in force in the evenings and weekends throughout the territory to combat a surge in novel coronavirus infections.

Virus-related restrictions meant the towering Christmas tree in Bethlehem was lit on December 5 without the usual crowds.

Locals and pilgrims traditionally gather each year for the lighting of the tree in Manger Square, in front of the Church of the Nativity.

The Palestinian health ministry has recorded more than 78,000 cases of COVID-19, including 740 deaths in the West Bank, territory occupied by Israel since 1967.

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TAGS: Bethlehem, Christmas, Church of the Nativity, COVID-19, Health, Jesus, mass, Palestinians, pandemic, Religion, Saint Catherine Church, Virus
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