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Bethlehem

 

Wings of Hope for trauma is located in the city of Bethlehem. It is an ancient and historical Arab city that was built and inhabited by the Canaanites around the year 2000 BC. The meaning of the city’s name in the ancient Aramaic language is ‘The House of Bread’, and within the city lies the Church of the Nativity where Jesus Christ was born. The city of Bethlehem is 10 km south of Jerusalem, at an altitude of about 765 meters above sea level. It has a population of nearly 180,116 people. It contains approximately 35 villages and towns, and is famous for being the birthplace of Jesus Christ. Three camps exist in the Governate; Dheisheh, Aida and Beit Guvrin. The Bethlehem area also contains the towns of Artas, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour.

In Bethlehem there are many churches, and perhaps the most important one is the Nativity Church, built by Constantine the Great (330) on the cave where Jesus was born. It is believed that this church is the oldest church in the world. A nearby crypt is believed to be where Jerome spent thirty years of his life. There is also the Omar Bin al-Khatab mosque which is situated opposite the Nativity Church. The university bears the city’s name - Bethlehem University.

The city of Bethlehem is one of the most important Palestinian cities for conferences and international forums. It has witnessed many celebrations and events, including welcoming Pope John Paul II, and the recently retired Pope Benedictus XVI. In addition, the city hosted the Arab economic conference and lately hosted the VI Conference of Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fateh) - Bethlehem houses the conference palace. The historical Bethlehem is still visible to the public even now with the same ancient buildings built of lime with stone doors and arched windows. Tourism is the backbone of the economy as it is visited year-round by pilgrims. It has many hotels and is famous for a variety of industries such as olive wood carvings and embroidery, and materials such as mother-of-pearl and copper.

Israeli occupational authorities established 12 settlements in the District of Bethlehem; seven of these each constitute an area of ​​no less than 5 thousand Dunums, and four settlements of ​​more than 25 thousand Dunums. According to the Oslo agreement, transfer of civilian/security authority of the city into the hands of the Palestinian National Authority occurred in 1995.

On December 21, 1995, Israeli troops withdrew from Bethlehem, and three days later the city came under the complete administrational and military control of the Palestinian National Authority in conformance with the 1995 Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

 

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