The Greek, Syriac, Copts and Ahbash Orthodox denominations will begin celebrating Christmas in Bethlehem today.
Early this morning, the city of Bethlehem started preparations to receive pilgrims and tourists. The courtyard of the Nativity will be the center of the celebrations; there will be four processions, starting with the Syriac convoy at 8:30 am, followed by the Copts at 9:30 am. Cyrus Theophlos III will arrive at the courtyard of the Nativity at noon, and will receive a formal reception. The procession of the Ahbash will follow.
Police and other security services have been deployed on the main road and junctions along the Nativity Street and the special pathway where the processions enter to secure their arrival and the arrival of the revelers.
Many of the clerics and citizens gathered said that the Christmas message is one of peace and love, and that Bethlehem is not at peace, but seeking peace under the suffocating siege imposed by the Israeli occupation.
“What we wish this year is to give hope and joy to our children, whom Christ loved, and said, ‘Let the children come to me because such is the kingdom of heaven,’” the official spokesman of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Issa Mosleh told Wafa.
“But what we say today is that we urgently need a Palestinian national unity, with which we can confront the Israeli occupation and realize the aspirations and objectives until the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital,” Mosleh said.
“We hope that the Christians will not emigrate from the Palestinian people and stay on their land and in their churches, villages and towns because the occupation wants to ‘redefine’ the Palestinian cause by becoming an Islamic Jew. We reject this because we are an inalienable part of the Palestinian people. The Almighty to enlighten the minds and hearts of world leaders to give the suffering Palestinian people their rights to freedom and stability. ”
To watch the celebrations live, click here.