Bethlehem Nativity Church reopens after coronavirus closure

The church was closed on March 5 as the first cases of the coronavirus were reported in the West Bank. (File/AFP)
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Updated 26 May 2020

Bethlehem Nativity Church reopens after coronavirus closure

  • The church was built over the spot where Christians believe Jesus was born
  • The Palestinian Authority has reported some 400 cases of the coronavirus in the West Bank

BETHLEHEM, West Bank: Bethlehem’s storied Church of the Nativity reopened to visitors on Tuesday, after a nearly three-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The church, built over the spot where Christians believe Jesus was born, was closed on March 5 as the first cases of the virus were reported in the West Bank.
The church is one of Christianity’s most sacred shrines and the closure came ahead of the busy Easter holiday season that typically draws tens of thousands of visitors and worshipers.
Bishop Theophylactos, a Greek Orthodox cleric, called the reopening a day of celebration for Bethlehem since “all the people now can enter the church and pray like before.”
The Palestinian Authority has reported some 400 cases of the coronavirus in the West Bank, with two deaths. Most of the cases were traced to Palestinians who worked inside Israel, which has been coping with a much larger outbreak.
Israeli authorities have begun to gradually reopen schools, houses of worship and markets as the spread of the novel coronavirus has slowed. Israel’s Health Ministry has reported over 16,700 confirmed cases of the disease and 279 deaths. More than 14,000 have recovered.


US ambassador says ready to solve Safer tanker crisis

Updated 57 sec ago

US ambassador says ready to solve Safer tanker crisis

RIYADH: The US ambassador to Yemen said the Americans are ready to help in solving the crisis of the Safer oil tanker, an abandoned oil tanker lying off Yemen's coast at risk of exploding. 

With 1.1 million barrels of crude on board, the tanker is deteriorating badly and could rupture at any time, with disastrous results for Red Sea marine life, UN and other experts warn.
The 45-year-old FSO Safer is anchored off the port of Hodeida under the control of the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who have blocked United Nations efforts to send a team of experts to assess its condition.