Christmas In Bethlehem: Gilded Treasures, But Few Tourists

Tourists visit the Church of the Nativity, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. The Church of the Nativity, built on the spot where Christians believe Jesus was born, is wrapping up a three-year restoration project just in time for the normally busy Christmas season. While the region is finally welcoming foreign tourists after a year-and-a-half-long COVID shutdown, few travelers are making their way to the birthplace of Jesus this holiday season (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

(AP) — A towering wooden screen once blackened with soot from worshippers’ candles is being restored to its gilded glory in the Church of the Nativity, built at the site where many believe Jesus was born. But few visitors are expected to see the work during the upcoming Christmas holiday season in biblical Bethlehem.

The town in the Israeli-occupied West Bank has struggled for nearly two years since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. This Christmas season is expected to be a bust for the second year in a row. Israel reopened its borders to vaccinated tourists earlier this month, but relatively few are expected to travel to Bethlehem.


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