Manger Square, Bethlehem, Christmas 2007

The article from PNN describes the major festivities outside the Church of the Nativity in Manger Square where events are put on for children. The Latin Patriarch of the Holy Lands visited here, and with a special permit, Rachel’s Well, which is off limits to Palestinians.
“Thousands of people crowded into Manger Square for the annual scouts parades, drum corps, and children’s festivities. This is the main event for the Christmas season. After the all night Mass, the city is quiet.
The main event was when the Patriarch arrives from Bethlehem at around 2:00 in the afternoon. He passed through the streets of Bethlehem, flanked with Palestinians, welcoming his procession. Priests and members of the clergy were in and outside of the Church of Nativity, while others passed through the streets with the Patriarch.
Local organizations, charities, school groups, citizens and political parties all made a showing as well for the first stop. The Patriarch arrived at the Mar Elias Monastery in Beit Jala, just up the hill from Bethlehem. The Beit Jala Mayor, Raji Zeidan, received Sabbah, as did the local clergy and residents.”

Meanwhile in Nablus Muslims are preparing for Eid-ul-Adha on 30th December, and hoping for a government of national unity.
The problem for both Christians celebrating Christmas and Muslims celebrating Eid are continuing sieges by the Israeli army, dividing families. The third article on the front page illustrates how this “normality” of occupation continues to be vicious and uncaring about human life even through the festive season.
Following the talks between Olmert and Abbas there are proposals to remove 60 checkpoints, although this appears to be opposed by the army. PNN reports the reality behind Olmert’s words.

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