BETHLEHEM the glorious birth-place of Jesus Christ has been witnessing very difficult and harsh conditions ever since the Israeli Occupation.

BETHLEHEM the glorious birth-place of Jesus Christ has been witnessing very difficult and harsh conditions ever since the Israeli Occupation. This sacred city of peace has turned to be a huge prison full of misery, agony and anger.

The Israeli occupation has desecrated the land of Bethlehem through long closures, checkpoints, the devastation of roads the uprooting of thousands of olive trees and land destruction. These extreme measures have been practiced to beat the spirits of the Bethlehemites. Unfortunately, it has had a very strong impact on both the city and its residents. The residents have been suffering from lack of security and safety, unemployment and poverty. They have also been suffering from the loss of their beloved families, relatives, friends and neighbors. In addition, the social, political and economic situations have deteriorated.

Moreover, the severe and destructive impact on Palestinians especially the Bethlehemites is the creation of the concrete WALL OF SEPERATION. Bethlehem became isolated from all the cities around, especially Jerusalem, since Bethlehem and Jerusalem have always been a twin cities depending on tourism and pilgrimage. With the construction of the apartheid wall the situation became worse and worse politically, socially and economically. As a result, the residents became frustrated, miserable and unemployed. The Christian majority became a minority, and Christians have been cursed by the phenomenon of emigration.

Tops all these catastrophic inhuman violations is the New Terminal of Bethlehem, which is the recent tribulation to all Palestinians. The Israelis are implementing strict and humiliating searching procedures on Palestinians, tourists and pilgrims. Is this what occupiers claim to be a means of their safety and security? Israel is denying the Palestinians human rights without thinking of the consequences. This is because we the Palestinians are forgotten and ignored by the international Christian community.

Furthermore, Christmas is coming and we as Palestinian Christians relate to this place through Jesus Christ. We wonder how we are going to celebrate this most significant event. Is it by spending hours being searched at the new entrance of the city? Or are we going to be deprived from access of worship to this sacred birth place of Jesus” The Nativity Church”? Thus, we as Palestinian Christians have to deepen our faith, so as to be part of the coming Christmas celebrations despite all the obstacles we are facing. We have to fill Bethlehem the city of Jesus Christ with joy and happiness.

Consequently, we call for the participation of every single Christian to celebrate Christmas 2005, despite all these discriminating measures. We have to work hard to keep Bethlehem as it always used to be, the city of joy, birth and peace, THE CITY OF JESUS CHRIST.     

Laity Committee in the Holy Land (LCHL) is an interest group of Palestinian laity Christians from all denominations seeking to activate the Christian role in the general aspects of the Palestinian life.