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    » 12/15/2011, 00.00

    ISRAEL – PALESTINE

    Some 90,000 pilgrims are expected in the Holy Land over Christmas



    Israel’s Ministry of Tourism announces measures to facilitate travel between Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Instability in neighbouring Arab countries causes a small drop in the number of arrivals in Bethlehem.
    Bethlehem (AsiaNews) – A total of 90,000 tourists are expected to arrive in Israel over the Christmas holiday, this according to the Israel Ministry of Tourism, which has announced plans to provide free transportation for pilgrims travelling between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

    Palestinian Christians are caught up in the festive mood of the season, said Samir Qumsieh, director and journalist at Al-Mahed Nativity TV, a Catholic broadcaster in Bethlehem.

    “Thousands of tourists have filled the streets of Bethlehem,” he told AsiaNew, “but fewer than last year, because of the instability in neighbouring Arab states.”

    Residents are doing their best to welcome pilgrims and the Church of the Nativity is a beehive of activities in preparation for Midnight Mass on 24 December, Qumsieh explained.

    Card Fouad Twal, Patriarch of Jerusalem, will celebrate the Mass. High ranking Palestinian officials, including President Mahmoud Abbas, will attend.

    A few days ago, Bethlehem Deputy Mayor George Saadeh and representatives of the Jerusalem Patriarchate met to plan the traditional Christmas Eve procession through the streets of the city.

    Last Sunday, more than 3,500 Christians and some Muslims were present at the lightening ceremony of the Christmas Tree in Nazareth. The same ceremony will take place in Bethlehem on Saturday.

    According to Israeli Tourism Ministry data, in the first half of this year, 1.6 million tourists visited Israel, 60 per cent Christian. (S.C.)
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    See also

    07/12/2004 PALESTINE
    Palestinian Christians fear their country might become an Islamic state


    18/03/2005 ISRAEL - PALESTINE
    Bethlehem Mayor urges help for Christians


    27/12/2010 ISRAEL – PALESTINE
    Record number of pilgrims visits Bethlehem as thousands throng Manger Square for Mass
    Israeli authorities say some 100,000 visitors took part in Christmas festivities this year, twice as many as last year. This was the merriest Christmas in the past ten years, since 28 September 2000 that is when the second intifada broke out. The area’s economy is also picking up steam.

    19/02/2004 ISRAEL - PALESTINE – VATICAN
    Pilgrims no longer limited to travel through Judea and Samaria


    18/04/2011 ISRAEL - PALESTINE
    Holy Week, Israeli and Palestinian border restrictions impedes pilgrims
    In the procession on Palm Sunday, about 10 thousand pilgrims less than in previous years. Many Christian Palestinians stranded at the border with Israel. The vice-chancellor of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem emphasizes the atmosphere of joy and devotion of the pilgrims, despite difficulties.



    Editor's choices

    CHINA – VATICAN
    Global Times: the pope should accept the independence of the Chinese Church



    After 24 hours of silence, China’s media today published excerpts, comments and editorials about Pope Francis’ interview with Asia Times. Although the pope did not address religious issues or Church problems, many saw the interview as an attempt to improve diplomatic relations between China and the Vatican, and advised Francis to accept Mao Zedong’s "three principles of independence" (theology, administration, jurisdiction), which would leave the power to appoint bishops in the hands of the Party. The People's Daily’s Global Times publishes an editorial on the issue.


    INDIA – PHILIPPINES
    Archbishop of Guwahati: In Asia religion is not dying, the faithful take strength from the Eucharist



    Mgr Menamparampil is among the speakers at the International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, Philippines. He was also a conflict mediator between various ethnic groups. He told AsiaNews about the value of the Congress for the Catholic Church in Asia and how people can bear witness the Gospel today, even amid tensions and violence of those who "hate us." "with the same pain in our hearts that we descend to our depths during a Eucharistic adoration."


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