Carols and bells in Bethlehem as festive season draws near

Christian tourists visit the Church of the Nativity in the biblical West Bank city of Bethlehem on December 21, 2019. (AFP)
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Updated 24 December 2019

Carols and bells in Bethlehem as festive season draws near

  • The season offers measured cheer for Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city, which is separated from nearby Jerusalem by a towering Israeli concrete military barrier

BETHLEHEM: Christmas cheer rang out through Bethlehem’s Manger Square on Monday as pilgrims and worshippers flocked to the city revered as Jesus’s birthplace and locals made final preparations for this year’s festivities.
Children dressed as Santa Claus sang carols and rang bells during a Christmas-themed show at the College des Freres, which sits in the biblical city’s central market where holiday decorations and wooden nativity scenes line the narrow alleys.
The main attractions in Bethlehem are the 4th-century Church of the Nativity, built over a grotto where Christian tradition says Jesus was born, and the 16-meter Christmas tree in Manger Square.
On Tuesday — Christmas Eve — the acting Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, will lead a procession from Jerusalem to nearby Bethlehem and later celebrate Midnight Mass in the Church of the Nativity, squeezing through its narrow sandstone entrance.

Barrier
Bethlehem’s Christmas season lasts through the Eastern Orthodox celebration on Jan. 7 to Armenian Christmas on Jan. 18.
The season offers measured cheer for Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city, which is separated from nearby Jerusalem by a towering Israeli concrete military barrier.
Bethlehem is enjoying its busiest tourist year in two decades, with foreign pilgrims coming in large numbers, taking advantage of a relative lull in Israeli-Palestinian tension.
Israel said on Sunday it would allow Christians in the Palestinian Gaza Strip to visit Bethlehem and Jerusalem at Christmas, reversing an earlier decision not to issue them permits.


UAE records 1,251 new coronavirus cases

Updated 6 min 45 sec ago

UAE records 1,251 new coronavirus cases

  • The total number of cases in the UAE since the pandemic began had reached 167,753, with the death toll now at 570

DUBAI: The UAE on Sunday recorded one death and 1,251 new coronavirus cases.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention said that the total number of cases since the pandemic began had reached 167,753, with the death toll now at 570.

The ministry added that 736 people had recovered over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of recoveries to 154,185.

On Saturday, Abu Dhabi Ports said that it would store and distribute 70 million coronavirus vaccines to continue to play “a vital role in the global fight against COVID-19, using its enhanced logistics capabilities.”

The vaccines will be stored at Khalifa Industrial Zone (KIZAD), a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Ports, and is part of the Hope Consortium initiative launched by Abu Dhabi last month that “aims to serve as a logistics platform to coordinate and facilitate the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine around the world.”

Jamal Mohammed Alkaabi, undersecretary of Abu Dhabi’a Department of Health, said that the emirates “continues to play a vital role within the global effort to discover a vaccine for COVID-19. And as part of those efforts, we are providing logistical capabilities that will position the UAE as a distinguished local, regional, and global distribution hub.”

Meanwhile, Robert Sutton, head of Logistics Cluster, Abu Dhabi Ports, said: “Abu Dhabi Ports’ ability in expanding capacity to receive and store clinical, pharmaceutical and life science materials at moderate and extreme temperature ranges is a testament to our commitment to offer world-class logistics solutions.

“Our Department of Health-licensed facility fully integrates the movement of cargo with state-of-the-art temperature, humidity, and refrigeration-controlled technology. Abu Dhabi Ports, through our highly advanced infrastructure and multimodal connectivity, is ready and able to meet the challenges of distributing sensitive pharmaceuticals quickly across the supply chain,” he said.

Elsewhere, Kuwait recorded 231 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the total to 142,426. The death toll reached 878 after three new fatalities were registered.

Oman’s Health Ministry said that its total number of cases had reached 123,484 and the death toll was 1,418.

In Bahrain, one death was reported, bringing the toll to 338, while 150 new infected cases were confirmed.