(CNN) — Authorities in the Palestinian town of Bethlehem are hoping it won’t be a silent night this Christmas Eve, following a spate of tourist cancellations due to recent violence in Gaza. The West Bank town of around 29,000 people, eight kilometers (five miles) south of Jerusalem, contains the Church of the Nativity, venerated by Christians as the birthplace of Jesus.

One of the oldest surviving Christian churches in the world, it has been considered the site of Christ’s birth since at least the 2nd century, and is the most significant tourist attraction in the Palestinian territories. But Palestinian authorities are concerned that the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas will deter pilgrims from visiting the site during the traditional Christmas boom season this month. [Link]