Category Archives: Palestine

Bethlehem, Palestine

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שלום חברים

A wonderful card from Bethlehem!! Thank you very much Luca!

Bethlehem  is a Palestinian city located in the central West Bank, neighboring south Jerusalem, with a population of about 25,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority. The economy is primarily tourist-driven.

The Hebrew Bible identifies Bethlehem as the city David was from. The New Testament identifies Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus. The town is inhabited by one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, although the size of the community has shrunk due to emigration.

The city was sacked by the Samaritans in 529, but rebuilt by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. Bethlehem was conquered by the Arab Caliphate of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb in 637, who guaranteed safety for the city’s religious shrines. In 1099, Crusaders captured and fortified Bethlehem and replaced its Greek Orthodox clergy with a Latin one. The Latin clergy were expelled after the city was captured by Saladin, the sultan of Egypt and Syria. With the coming of the Mamluks in 1250, the city’s walls were demolished, and were subsequently rebuilt during the rule of the Ottoman Empire.

The British wrested control of the city from the Ottomans during World War I and it was to be included in an international zone under the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine. Jordan annexed the city in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. It was occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. Since 1995, Bethlehem has been governed by the Palestinian National Authority.

Bethlehem has a Muslim majority, but is also home to one of the largest Palestinian Christian communities. Bethlehem’s chief economic sector is tourism which peaks during the Christmas season when Christian pilgrims throng to the Church of the Nativity. Bethlehem has over thirty hotels and three hundred handicraft work shops. Rachel’s Tomb, an important Jewish holy site, is located at the northern entrance of Bethlehem.

A very historical city…

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