Jesus’ birthplace closed to foreign Christian pilgrims at Christmas because of omicron
| News Today | Local News
The Church of the Nativity, which is the traditional site where Jesus was born in Bethlehem, remains closed to prospective foreign Christian pilgrims due to Israel’s latest response to the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Most tourists visiting the church, which is in Palestinian-controlled West Bank territory, pass through Israel, which recently extended the ban on foreign travelers it put in place last month. The country has also banned residents from traveling to other countries, including the United States.
The tourist economies of Bethlehem and other historic cities such as Nazareth and Jerusalem depend heavily on Christian pilgrims around the Christmas season and have been devastated by ongoing travel restrictions linked to the pandemic.
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Some Christian leaders have spoken out against what they claim to be religious discrimination on the part of the Israeli government, which made an exception to its restrictions last week for participants in “Birthright,” a program that offers young Jews all over the world the opportunity to visit Israel. .
Wadie Abunassar, spokesperson and counselor for churches in the Holy Land, said various Christian denominations were unhappy with what they saw as selective treatment.
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“Racist discrimination should never be accepted in any way!” he wrote in a Facebook post. “I urge the Israeli authorities to treat all those who wish to visit the country on an equal footing without any discrimination between religions.
A source from the Roman Catholic Church who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity said church officials were shocked and angry at the Israeli government’s decision and called the tourism industry to Israel to let Christian pilgrims enter the country for the Christmas season.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.
News Today Usa News Jesus’ birthplace closed to foreign Christian pilgrims at Christmas because of omicron