BETHLEHEM, West Bank — Bethlehem's city fathers have called off ambitious plans for Christmas 2000, saying a time of bloody Palestinian-Israeli conflict is no time for merrymaking.
The town of Jesus' birth will be dark and deserted this Christmas--without festive street lights, craft fairs and choirs in Manger Square.
In the last two months, seven Palestinians from the Bethlehem area have been killed in rock-throwing clashes and gun battles with Israeli soldiers.
For most of that time, Israeli travel restrictions have kept tourists and other non-Palestinians out of biblical Bethlehem and other Palestinian towns. These restrictions were tightened 10 days ago, to bar all traffic into and out of Palestinian towns.