Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, are facing significant limitations this year due to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.
According to The Times on Monday, Churches in the West Bank, the holy land of Christianity, have called for subdued festivities to acknowledge the suffering experienced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank following Israel’s response to Hamas’ attack on October 7.
The Black Saturday attack by Hamas on October 7 resulted in the loss of 1,200 lives, mostly Israeli civilians. In retaliation, Israel launched a forceful response aimed at eliminating Hamas, but it has led to the deaths of thousands of civilians, with approximately 70% being women and children.
The city of Bethlehem, normally bustling with around 150,000 tourists during the Christmas period, has seen a drastic decline in visitors due to the conflict, causing economic hardship for locals.
Residents are grappling with the impact of the violence, and clashes between the IDF and West Bank citizens have escalated, with Bethlehem residents facing attacks.
Despite its status as a holy site, Bethlehem has witnessed clashes and protests, with some churches expressing solidarity by setting up installations symbolising the nativity scene amid the rubble, referencing the situation in Gaza.