Skip to content
Jesus’ birthplace closed to foreign Christian pilgrims at Christmas because of omicron

 |  Today Headlines

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.

Tourists visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, West Bank, Tuesday, November 16, 2021.
(AP Photo / Nasser Nasser)

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.

ISRAL DEPOSITS TO BAN TRAVEL TO US DUE TO OMICRON VARIANT CONCERNS

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. .

Jesus’ birthplace closed to foreign Christian pilgrims at Christmas because of omicron

 |  Today Headlines

People visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, West Bank, Thursday, March 5, 2020 (AP Photo / Mahmoud Illean)

Wadie Abunassar, spokesperson and counselor for churches in the Holy Land, said various Christian denominations were unhappy with what they saw as selective treatment.

FEW TOURISTS LIVE CHRISTMAS IN BETHLEHEM AFTER A PANDEMIC

“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.

Jesus’ birthplace closed to foreign Christian pilgrims at Christmas because of omicron

 |  Today Headlines

Tourists pose for a photo with renovated polished limestone columns during a visit to the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Tuesday, November 16, 2021.
(AP Photo / Nasser Nasser)

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.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

News Today Usa News Jesus’ birthplace closed to foreign Christian pilgrims at Christmas because of omicron

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.