Thousands of Orthodox pilgrims celebrated Christmas in Bethlehem on the West Bank of the Jordan

Thousands of Orthodox pilgrims celebrated Christmas in Bethlehem on the West Bank of the Jordan

BETHLEHEM (West Bank of the Jordan river), 6 Jan. /Offset. TASS Andrey Shirokov/. Several thousands of Orthodox pilgrims gathered on Christmas eve in Bethlehem.

Leading to Manger square outside the Star 6 January, a parade of Palestinian scouts who were festive parade under the thunder of drums and the singing of the bagpipes to the Basilica of the Nativity, the Shrine, where the star of Bethlehem marked the place of Jesus ‘ birth.

Manger square at the Church of the Nativity, a small pedestrian streets and alleys around it, and the very streets located on the West Bank of the Jordan river Bethlehem January 6, patrol reinforced the Palestinian police and armed soldiers of the presidential guard, the correspondent of TASS from the event.

The joy of the pilgrims

Among celebrating Christmas in Bethlehem this year — a large proportion of pilgrims from Russia. Russian speech is heard everywhere on Manger square and in the Basilica of the Nativity. “We are pleased that the excitement ended for us a great joy to be here in Bethlehem in this day and this hour, — has told in conversation with the correspondent of TASS pilgrim Alex, arrived in Palestine to celebrate Christmas with family from Novosibirsk. On this occasion, we for the first time, it gives us the feeling of flying, joy and happiness.” In Manger square opposite the Basilica of the Nativity, traditionally in early December was set embellished with red and gold balls Christmas tree, which is crowned by a large five-pointed star.

According to the Ministry of tourism of Israel, the Holy land during this Christmas period will visit more than 140 thousand tourists and pilgrims, which is 20% more than in 2016. Back in November there were no unreserved seats in the hotels of Bethlehem, but in December was followed by mass cancellation as a frightened message about the riots.

In Bethlehem restless

Christmas celebration in Bethlehem this season was overshadowed by a politicized U.S. President Donald trump, who on 6 December 2017, issued a statement on the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced the transfer of the us Embassy there from tel Aviv. Then from the Gaza strip at Israel rockets flew, in response to which the Israeli army continues this year to strike Hamas targets on the territory of the Palestinian seaside enclave. Twice in the Bethlehem city hall off the festive illuminations in mourning of those killed in the protests.

January 6, dozens of Palestinians tried to block the passage from Jerusalem to Bethlehem the train of the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilus III in protest against the sale and lease of the Greek-Orthodox Church in the Holy land of real estate to Israel. Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III traditionally makes a festive worship service in the Bethlehem Basilica of the Nativity. Predecessor Theophilus III to the post of Patriarch of Jerusalem Irenaeus was deposed after being accused of frauds with real estate of the Patriarchate in 2005.

This year at the Christmas service in Bethlehem, which leads Theophilos III, it is expected the arrival of the Palestinian leadership — the President of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.