Bethlehem fills with Christmas pilgrims

Thursday, December 25, 2008 |  Israel Today Staff

Thousands of Christian pilgrims filled Bethlehem's Manger Square Wednesday evening to participate in Christmas Mass.

Palestinian tourism officials told Reuters they expect about 40,000 Christians from around the world to visit Bethlehem this week.

Those numbers mark a huge increase after tourism to the town of Jesus' birth flatlined during the latest Palestinian terrorist uprising.

But a drastic reduction in terrorism emanating from Bethlehem and surrounding villages has allowed Israel to ease controls on movement in and out of the city, and local merchants and hotels are reportedly doing strong business as a result.

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