Bethlehem hosts traditional Christmas mass

The celebration was overshadowed by COVID gloom after Israel's decision to shut out foreign travellers in order to try to prevent the Omicron variant taking hold.

This has made it almost impossible to pilgrims to arrive in the West Bank town, traditionally known as Jesus birthplace.

In its last pre-pandemic winter, in 2019/20, Bethlehem hosted 3.5 million visitors.

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