Pilgrims from around the world gathered Tuesday in the biblical city of Bethlehem, revered by Christians as the birthplace of Jesus, to celebrate Christmas in the Holy Land.
Thousands of Palestinians and foreigners converged on the ‘little town’ in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, with festivities taking place in and around the Church of the Nativity.
Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and the most senior Roman Catholic official in the Middle East, arrived from the holy city at the head of a procession.
Bethlehem is close to Jerusalem, but cut off from it by Israel’s separation barrier.
After crossing through the wall, Pizzaballa said it was a difficult time but there was reason for ‘hope’.