Thursday, December 25, 2008

Peace in Bethlehem as Hamas fires on Israel

BETHLEHEM: Pilgrims and local Christians celebrated Bethlehem's merriest Christmas in eight years yesterday, with hotels booked solid, Manger Square bustling with families and Israeli and Palestinian forces co-operating to make things run smoothly.

But the festivities in the West Bank town contrasted sharply with Hamas-run Gaza, just 70km away. While revellers in Bethlehem launched pink fireworks from a rooftop, Palestinian militants from Gaza increased the range and intensity of their rocket fire against Israel, as the Israeli security cabinet considered options that included broader military action or efforts to renew a truce that recently expired. Israeli aircraft over southern Gaza targeted militants firing rockets, killing one and wounding two others.

Not long afterward in the West Bank, crowds gathered at nightfall outside Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, the traditional birthplace of Jesus, ahead of the midnight Catholic mass. In Manger Square, vendors hawked roasted peanuts and Santa Claus hats. Many in the square were Muslim residents out to enjoy their quiet town's annual moment at the centre of world attention.

Here is the link to the original story: Bethlehem

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