Birthplace Of Jesus Sees Worst Christmas Ever As War Shuts Down Bethlehem

As the world prepares to celebrate Christmas festivities with fervour and excitement, the birthplace of Jesus is witnessing an unusual silence wearing a deserted look as tourists stay away from the city of Bethlehem amid the ongoing Israel-Gaza war. 

The hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops in the Palestinian town in the Israeli-occupied West Bank is empty with global headlines dominating the violent conflict in the region since October 7, reported Reuters. 

Bethlehem, the city located just south of Jerusalem, is heavily dependent for income and jobs on visitors from all over the world who come to see the Church of the Nativity, which Christians believe stands on the site where Jesus was born.

“My son asked me why there’s no Christmas tree this year, I don’t know how to explain it,” Ali Thabet tells CNN, adding “We join them in their celebrations, and they also join us in our celebrations. But this year’s holiday season is very bad.”

 Empty streets are seen on the morning on December 24, 2023 in Bethlehem (Image: Getty)

Joey Canavati, owner of the Alexander Hotel, whose family has lived and worked in Bethlehem for four generations, said, “We have no guests. Not one”.

“This is the worst Christmas ever. Bethlehem is shut down for Christmas. No Christmas tree, no joy, no Christmas spirit,” he said, quoted Reuters. Canavati said that before Oct. 7, his hotel was fully booked for Christmas. He said he was looking for rooms elsewhere in the town to help out people he could not fit in. However, everything turned upside down after October 7.

“All we get on the email is cancellation after cancellation after cancellation,” Reuters quoted Canavati as saying.

Businesses across the city have taken a severe hit due to the war. Tabash brings his father with him to the shop which his grandfather opened in 1927. “We’ve never seen Christmas like this,” he said, quoted CNN.

 The Church of the Nativity wears a deserted look on Christmas (Image: Getty)

“Since three months, honestly, we don’t have one sale. I don’t want to keep my father at home. I don’t want to give up hope,” a disheartened Tabash added.

The Church of the Nativity, which used to echo with crowds of hundreds has no visitor this year.

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