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Military occupation wreaks havoc on Bethlehem's Christmas plans

The Israeli military's occupation of Bethlehem is wreaking havoc on Bethlehem's plans for the Christmas season, with events having to be cancelled or postponed.

The Bethlehem Peace Centre was to open an exhibit on the life of Jesus, on Sunday, but the opening was postponed because of an Israeli-imposed curfew.

The staff members who had put together the Christmas and 2003 schedule over the past year were still at home after 10 days under curfew when they released the schedule on their Web site on Saturday.

Israeli forces entered Bethlehem on 22 November in response to a suicide bus bombing in Jerusalem that left 11 dead and 48 injured. Palestinians reported rumors that the curfew would continue until the end of December. Others said it might be lifted next Tuesday.

An Israeli Defense Forces spokesman said there was no truth to the rumors and that the Israeli actions depend only on the security situation.

On 27 November, Palestinian National Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat ordered the cancellation of Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem in protest of the Israeli presence in the city.

Catholic News Service

Bethlehem Peace Centre

5 Dec 2002