Christmas Eve in Bethlehem Is Low-Key

BETHLEHEM, West Bank, DEC. 24, 2003 (Zenit.org).- More than a thousand people gathered in Manger Square, listening to carols and watching the Christmas Eve procession into the church that holds the traditional birthplace of Jesus.

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The crowd outside the Church of the Nativity was a far cry from the gathers that would fill the square in years past, the Associated Press noted.

During the past three years of Palestinian-Israeli violence, most potential pilgrims have stayed away.

«Participation is very limited because of the closures and checkpoints, people could simply not come,» Bethlehem Governor Zohair Manasra said.

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