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Minority Christians prepare for Christmas in the Mideast

Dec 24th, 2013 - International News

JERUSALEM (AP) — Minority Christians in Israel and the Palestinian territories are preparing to celebrate Christmas.

Most residents of the Holy Land are either Jewish or Muslim, but one shop in Jerusalem's Old City sells Christmas decorations.

Ivan Tatarsky was shopping there Sunday. He said he was buying a Christmas tree to give his children a joyous holiday. The 31-year-old Jerusalem resident said his family will be together on Christmas "singing songs and dancing around the tree."

In Gaza, Bishop Alexius of the Roman Orthodox Church lit the Christmas tree in his church Sunday. He said, "We are praying on Christmas, the birth of Jesus, for peace and no closure in our country." The bishop said Israel is allowing some Palestinian Christians to join their families in Gaza for Christmas, but is barring Palestinian youths.

The West Bank town of Bethlehem, the traditional birthplace of Jesus, is one of the few Palestinian cities where Christmas is really felt.

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