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Obama wraps up Holy Land visit at Bethlehem church after Holocaust tribute

Obama pays his respects in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem after Marines laid a wreath on his behalf.
Obama pays his respects in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem after Marines laid a wreath on his behalf.Uriel Sinai / Getty Images

By Matt Spetalnick and Ali Sawafta, Reuters

President Barack Obama made a pilgrimage on Friday to Bethlehem, the traditional birthplace of Jesus.

At the Church of the Nativity, Obama ducked to enter through its small Door of Humility. Manger Square, the plaza in front of the church, was almost deserted except for security personnel.

Earlier, Obama visited Israel's most powerful national symbols, paying homage at the Holocaust memorial and the graves of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, and Yitzhak Rabin, the prime minister assassinated in 1995 by an extremist Jew over peace moves with the Palestinians.

Wearing a Jewish skullcap, Obama rekindled an eternal flame at the Yad Vashem memorial next to a stone slab above ashes recovered from Nazi extermination camps after World War Two.

"We have a choice to acquiesce to evil or make real our solemn vow - never again," Obama said.

Obama tours the Hall of Names at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, alongside Avner Shalev (right), Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images
Obama pays his respects in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem after Marines laid a wreath on his behalf.Uriel Sinai / Getty Images
Obama listens to Netanyahu during their visit to the Children's Memorial at Yad Vashem.Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP
Obama walks with Rabbi Israel Meir Lau in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem.Jason Reed / Reuters

Previously on PhotoBlog: Obama begins first official trip to Israel