The annual Christmas exhibition in Bethlehem has been canceled by Palestinian authorities ‘in honor of Hamas martyrs’ due to the ongoing conflict with Israel.
The municipality of Bethlehem announced plans to do away with the traditional Christmas tree and festive decorations on Manger Square, which has been home to Christmas decorations since the beginning of the modern celebrations of the season.
It is the first time that there are no festive decorations on display at the site where Jesus Christ is said to have been born.
The authorities of the West Bank city said this The Telegraph normal plans had been scrapped ‘in honor of the martyrs and in solidarity with our people in Gaza’.
Traditional Christmas masses and prayers will still be celebrated, without the usual Christmas tree or festive lights “installed in any part of the city,” which is just six miles south of Jerusalem, a spokesperson told the newspaper.
The municipality of Bethlehem announced plans to abolish the traditional Christmas tree and festive decorations on Mangerplein
The action is said to be ‘in honor of Hamas martyrs’ as Israel continues to battle terrorists in Gaza
Authorities in the West Bank city said normal plans had been scrapped ‘in honor of the martyrs and in solidarity with our people in Gaza’
Further plans for the festive period in the area are expected to be announced in the coming days.
‘The reason is the general situation in Palestine; people don’t really like to celebrate, they are sad, angry and upset,” they said.
“Our people in Gaza are being slaughtered and murdered in cold blood.
Therefore, it is not at all appropriate to hold such celebrations while there is a massacre in Gaza and attacks in the West Bank.”
“This year the situation in Bethlehem is unprecedented and the mood and atmosphere is extremely sad, and that is exactly what the world should see and realize that these are not normal circumstances,” they added.
“Bethlehem should send out its own message of compassion and mourning.”
The town of Bethlehem is usually a tourist trap in the run-up to Christmas, with Christians making pilgrimages to Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity.
The church has prominent religious significance for Christians around the world as the recognized birthplace of Jesus, and is the oldest site in continuous use as a place of worship in Christianity.
The town of Bethlehem is usually a tourist trap in the run-up to Christmas
Christmas decorations are usually a welcome sight on the square in Bethlehem
People attend Christmas celebrations around the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, West Bank, in January this year
It is the first time that there are no festive decorations on display at the site where Jesus Christ is said to have been born
People collect items from the rubble of buildings destroyed during Israeli airstrikes in the town of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip
A child reacts as people rescue belongings from the rubble of a damaged building after the attacks on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip last week
It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been associated with the birthplace of Jesus since the fourth century AD. Buildings have been added since then, with the existing church dating from the sixth century AD.
But since Hamas launched its attack on Israel on October 7 and the ensuing conflict, the city has been much quieter than usual in the run-up to the Christmas period.
The war between Israel and Hamas broke out on October 7 after the militant group killed about 1,200 people and captured about 240 prisoners.
Meanwhile, Israeli airstrikes have killed more than 11,200 people in Ramallah, according to the Palestinian health minister.
Another 2,700 have been reported missing.
About two-thirds of the area’s 2.3 million residents have now fled their homes, most of whom currently live in the southern part of the coastal strip.