By JACK JEFFERY
BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) — The biblical town of Bethlehem is marking its second straight Christmas Eve under the shadow of the coronavirus — with small crowds and gray, gloomy weather dampening celebrations in the traditional birthplace of Jesus. A ban on nearly all incoming air traffic by Israel — the main entry point for foreign visitors heading to the occupied West Bank — kept international tourists away for a second consecutive year. The ban is meant to contain the spread of the omicron variant. Instead, local authorities are counting on the Holy Land’s small Christian community to lift spirits. It is a theme seen around the world as revelers, weary from nearly two years of lockdowns and safety restrictions, search for ways to celebrate safely.