Australia instances might high 10,000; France sees file day by day excessive; Israel orders 100,000 anti-viral capsules


In Bethlehem, the town the place Christians imagine Jesus was born, 1000’s often pack the streets in the course of the Christmas interval. On common, Bethlehem welcomed 3 million guests a 12 months earlier than the pandemic, with Christmas alone drawing 10,000 folks to the town’s inns, round half from overseas.

However Israel, which controls all entrances to Bethlehem within the occupied West Financial institution, has barred its borders to foreigners in an effort to rein in infections from Omicron. In Manger Sq., numbers had been noticeably decrease as Covid fears overshadowed celebrations for a second straight 12 months.

“It’s very unusual,” mentioned Kristel Elayyan, a Dutchwoman married to a Palestinian, who got here to Bethlehem from Jerusalem instructed Agence-France-Presse, including:

Earlier than (the pandemic), you had a bunch of individuals coming in from totally different nations to rejoice Christmas, and now you understand that everyone who’s right here might be not a vacationer.

Final 12 months, Bethlehem curtailed celebrations sharply with a digital tree lighting and only a handful of visiting scouts. This 12 months, the celebrations had been extra vibrant – however nonetheless a fraction of their normal dimension.

One store proprietor, Victor Epiphane Tabash, mentioned it was his 57th Christmas behind the counter. For him, as for a lot of shopkeepers round Manger Sq., “there’s nothing to say about Christmas”.

He mentioned he stored his enterprise alive in the course of the pandemic by exporting as a result of no prospects got here to purchase in individual. He in contrast the pandemic to 2 earlier Palestinian uprisings, or intifadas, including:

We’ve got lived by the intifadas, wars. However the coronavirus is worse.