Category: About Bethlehem

About Bethlehem

Bethlehem is a Palestinian city located in the central West Bank, neighboring south Jerusalem, with a population of about 25,000 people. The Hebrew Bible identifies Bethlehem as the city of David while the New Testament refers to Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus. The small town is inhabited by one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, although the size of the community has shrunk due to emigration.
In 529, the city was destroyed by the Samaritans but rebuilt by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. In 637, Bethlehem was conquered by the Arab Caliphate of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb , who guaranteed safety for the city’s religious shrines. Crusaders captured and fortified Bethlehem in 1099 and replaced its Greek Orthodox clergy with a Latin one. At their turn, 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 took 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. During the 1948 Arab Israeli War, the city was annexed by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan but was later occupied by Israel in the 1967 the Six-Day War. Since 1995, Bethlehem has been governed by the Palestinian National Authority.
Though Bethlehem has a Muslim majority yet it is home to one of the largest Palestinian Christian communities. The city’s main economic sector is tourism which peaks during Christmas when Christian pilgrims crowd to the Church of the Nativity.