20 Stories

Security Forces Clash With Santas in Bethlehem

Christians join protest against Jerusalem move

(Newser) - Peace on earth and goodwill once again seem to be in short supply in Bethlehem, where Palestinian protesters dressed as Santa Claus clashed with Israeli security forces in the historical birthplace of Jesus Saturday. Israeli soldiers used tear gas and stun grenades to push back the Santas, who were protesting... More »

In Restive Bethlehem, an Uneasy Christmas

Fighting casts a pall on West Bank town as it celebrates signature holiday

(Newser) - Christian faithful from around the world on Thursday descended on the biblical city of Bethlehem for Christmas Eve celebrations at the traditional birthplace of Jesus, trying to lift spirits on a holiday dampened by months of Israeli-Palestinian violence. The fighting cast a pall. Crowds were thin and hotel rooms were... More »

Tunnel to Be Built Under Nativity Site?

Traffic-clogged Bethlehem eyes passage beneath Nativity Church

(Newser) - O' little town of Bethlehem is dealing with a problem that typically plagues big cities: traffic. Though it claims just 28,000 residents, its small streets make for a traffic nightmare, and the lanes around Nativity Church, which marks the spot where tradition says Jesus was born, are no exception.... More »

West Bank Land Seizure Is Israel's Biggest in Decades

Appropriation seen as revenge for murder of Israeli teens

(Newser) - In a move the US calls "counterproductive," Israel has made a huge land seizure in the West Bank and is expected to use it to expand Jewish settlements. The Israeli anti-settlement group Americans for Peace Now says the 990-acre seizure in an area called the Etzion bloc—one... More »

Abbas, Peres Accept Francis' Invite to Pray

Pope makes a breakthrough in visit to Bethlehem

(Newser) - The offices of the Israeli and Palestinian presidents are confirming that they have accepted an invitation from Pope Francis to visit the Vatican together next month. At the end of an open-air Mass in the biblical town of Bethlehem today, Francis invited the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to the Vatican... More »

Pope Will Head to Holy Land

Francis announces his 1st trip abroad for new year

(Newser) - Pope Francis has announced that he will travel to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan May 24-26. The visit marks the pope's first trip to the Holy Land and is so far his only foreign travel planned for 2014. Francis told people gathered in the rain for his weekly... More »

In the Holy Land, Attempts to Revive Jesus' Language

Schools in two villages teaching Aramaic

(Newser) - In two Holy Land villages—and, randomly, Sweden—efforts are being made to revive Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke that has been almost dead for centuries. The Palestinian village of Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, and the Arab-Israeli village of Jish, in the Galilean hills where Jesus taught, were both inspired... More »

Israelis Unearth Ancient Bethlehem Seal

Oldest reference to city found outside of the Bible

(Newser) - Israeli archaeologists have discovered a 2,700-year-old seal that bears the inscription "Bethlehem," the Israel Antiquities Authority announced yesterday, in what experts believe to be the oldest artifact with the name of Jesus' traditional birthplace. The tiny clay seal's existence and age provide vivid evidence that Bethlehem... More »

Rival Monks in Broom Brawl at Christ's Birthplace

Annual cleaning ignites tensions

(Newser) - Not a very nice birthday present for Jesus: Dozens of rival monks brawled at his birthplace today, as the feuding clergy members were performing an annual cleaning of the holy spot. The Church of the Nativity, built over the site where Jesus is believed to have been born in Bethlehem,... More »

Christians Usher in Christmas

Pope calls for peace in Syria, pilgrims gather in Bethlehem, and NORAD's phone rings off the hook

(Newser) - Pope Benedict called for an end to the violence in Syria and urged Christians to "see through the superficial glitter" as he led the celebration of Christmas in his annual Urbi et Orbi address. "May the Lord bring an end to the violence in Syria, where much blood... More »

O Little Town of Bethlehem, Packed With Tourists

Faithful flock to Church of the Nativity

(Newser) - There wasn't any room at the inns today as thousands of faithful thronged the streets of Bethlehem to worship at Christ's biblical birthplace. Visitors snapped photos at the 50-foot-tall Christmas tree at Manger Square and received blessings from Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, the head of the Catholic Church... More »

Palin Ditches Bethlehem Trip at Last Minute

Palin ends 2-day Israel visit, promises longer return trip

(Newser) - Sarah Palin aborted a trip to Bethlehem at the last minute yesterday, according to the Telegraph , which suggests some not-so-wise men among her advisers could be to blame. The city of Christ's birth was meant to be her first stop of the day, according to a leaked copy of her... More »

Record Crowds Throng Bethlehem

Most pilgrims in a decade come to mark Jesus' birth

(Newser) - The largest number of pilgrims in a decade gathered in Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas, with tens of thousands flocking to the Church of the Nativity for prayers this morning. Israeli military officials, who coordinate movement in and out of the West Bank, said more than 100,000 pilgrims have come... More »

Found in Nazareth: A House Like Jesus'

Archaeologists discover home from biblical time

(Newser) - For the first time, archaeologists have found a house from the time of Jesus in the town of Nazareth. The small house, which consists of two rooms, a courtyard, and a cistern for water, is considered a typical home for the inhabitants of Nazareth, were Jesus is believed to have... More »

In Bethlehem, Pope Calls for Palestinian State

From Bethlehem, Benedict demands Palestinian state

(Newser) - Pope Benedict decried the suffering in the West Bank and called for an independent Palestinian state today in Bethlehem, the London Times reports. "The Holy See supports the right of your people to a sovereign Palestinian homeland in the land of your forefathers," the pope said, addressing thousands... More »

Palestinians Suffer Behind Bethlehem Barrier: UN

Residents can only access 13% of the area: report

(Newser) - Palestinians have access to just 13% of the land around Bethlehem due to Israeli military zones, a barrier, and settlements, a UN report charges just days before Pope Benedict is due to visit the holy city. “Bethlehem’s potential for residential and industrial expansion and development has been reduced,... More »

Calm Is a Tourist Boon for Bethlehem

West Bank sees record influx, boost to Palestinian economy

(Newser) - More than 1.3 million visitors took advantage of the relative peace between Israel and Palestine to visit Jesus Christ’s birthplace this year, the Christian Science Monitor reports. The streets around Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity—abandoned except for Israeli military jeeps just 6 years ago amid an... More »

Priests Brawl With Brooms at Church of the Nativity

Punch-up in Bethlehem injures 5 priests, 2 cops

(Newser) - A holiday cleanup at the church built over the grotto in Bethlehem where Christians believe Jesus was born turned ugly Thursday, as Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests came to blows, the Times of London reports. Robed priests pummeled each other with brooms and stones in the Church of the Nativity... More »

A Peaceful Xmas in Bethlehem

West Bank town sees its first calm Christmas in years; tourism rebounds

(Newser) - This Christmas a huge number of tourists and pilgrims have made their way to Bethlehem, five miles south of Jerusalem in the West Bank. The mayor of the town of Jesus' birth predicted at least 65,000 visitors this Christmas, quadruple the figure just two years ago, CTV reports. The... More »

Christmas Opens in Bethlehem

Resumed peace talks give holiday tourism a bump to 65K tourists

(Newser) - The lighting of a four-story tree yesterday in Bethlehem kicked off a joyous season of increased tourism, reports the AP, amid a backdrop of resumed Mideast peace talks. Some 65,000 foreigners are expected to visit the West Bank town this season, the AP reports; only 16,000 visited the... More »

20 Stories