Christmas celebrations, clashes in Bethlehem

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As Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces in Bethlehem. Diane Hodges reports.

Christmas celebrations, clashes in Bethlehem

Hundreds of people from around the world gathered at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem on Friday to celebrate Christmas mass at the traditional birthplace of Jesus.

Only a sparse crowd was on hand —

A wave of violence has led to a sharp decline in pilgrims visiting Bethlehem and the rest of the Holy Land this year.

Dozens of Palestinian youths gathered near the city on Friday where they threw stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli security forces.

The Israelis fired stun and smoke grenades back.

The surge in violence has been fueled in part by Muslim opposition to stepped-up Israeli visits to the al-Aqsa mosque complex in Jerusalem.

The nearly-daily stabbings, shootings and car-rammings have killed 20 Israelis and a U.S. citizen since October, while Israeli forces have killed at least 124 Palestinians during that time.

As Bethlehem celebrates the season of hope, there is little to indicate that the violence will end anytime soon.

Tags : Bethlehem, Clashes, celebrations, christmas

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