Watch: Bethlehem lights up Christmas tree as coronavirus rules keep crowds away

Published: Updated:
Enable Read mode
100% Font Size

Bethlehem lit up its Christmas tree on Saturday evening but without the usual crowds, as novel coronavirus restrictions put a damper on the start of Christmas festivities in the holy city.

Palestinian authorities last 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.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Locals and pilgrims traditionally gather each year for the lighting of the tree in Manger Square, near the Church of the Nativity, built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was born.

For more coronavirus news, visit our dedicated page.

But this year, only a small crowd of journalists was present due to coronavirus restrictions, an AFP photographer said.

Carmen Ghattas, director of public relations at the Bethlehem municipality, told AFP that Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh had lit up the tree remotely from his office in Ramallah.

The West Bank, with a Palestinian population of more than 2.8 million, has officially recorded 71,703 coronavirus infections, including 678 deaths.

Israel has occupied the territory since 1967.

Read more:

Coronavirus: German court upholds ban on COVID-19 demonstration

Coronavirus: Italy reports 662 COVID-19 deaths, 21,052 new cases

Coronavirus: Britain reports 15,539 new COVID-19 cases, 397 deaths

Top Content Trending