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Bethlehem authorities cancel Christmas display to honour “martyrs”

Bethlehem, which is controlled by the Palestinian Authority, has cancelled the annual Christmas display this year to honour the Palestinian “martyrs” amid the ongoing war with Israel.

The town, which is the reported birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth, features Manger Square, which is said to mark the exact location where Jesus is said to have been born roughly 2,000 years ago. This location typically features a nativity scene, Christmas tree, and decorative lights in the modern era coming up to Christmas. This was even present during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jesus Christ is worshipped as God in Christianity, and regarded as a mere human prophet in Islam.

However, on Tuesday this week the Bethlehem Municipality said it would be dismantling “all festive appearances in honour of the martyrs and in solidarity with our people in Gaza.” They included a photo of a man in a cherry picker taking down lights.

Speaking to the Telegraph, a spokesman for the municipality, which is located in the West Bank, said that while a Mass and prayers would be allowed, there would be “no tree or lighting installed in any part of the city.”

“The reason is the general situation in Palestine,” the spokesperson said.

“People are not really into any celebration. They are sad, angry and upset; our people in Gaza are being massacred and killed in cold blood. Therefore, it is not appropriate at all to have such festivities while there is a massacre happening in Gaza and attacks in the West Bank.”

In a further statement on Thursday, the Municipality said: “A decision has been made to save Christmas on religious rituals, and to organize events in order to deliver protest messages repelling aggression against our Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank where the world’s eyes are focused on the cradle of Christ at this time.”

The most recent conflict between Israel and Hamas, which began on October 7th with a Hamas terrorist attack against Israel, followed by Israeli military strikes on Gaza and the West Bank, remains ongoing.


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Mary Reynolds
10 days ago

Over 11,000 killed in Gaza in over a month. They are in mourning and are still under attack. How could one expect them to even think of a public display of celebratory Christmas lights and a Christmas tree amid this slaughter? They should have the Nativity scene in Manger Square, in my view, since they are ‘saving Christmas on religious rituals only’ at this time. No lights out of respect for their grief and their dead.
‘Reuters – Gaza War inflicts catastrophic damage on infrastructure and economy’ 17 Nov 2023. We want Israel to have mercy and end this war now.

Mary Reynolds
10 days ago
Reply to  Mary Reynolds

I thought that quote was a direct translation from Arabic, but it has a misprint. It should read, they are ‘having Christmas on religious rituals only’. Israel must be merciful and end the war now. Along with the slaughter, all is knocked out in Gaza, hospitals, water, sewerage, all. End the war.

Declan Hayes
10 days ago

Is there some reason beside bias you have the word martyrs in quotation marks? The word martyr is commonly used throughout the Middle East in instances like this. In Damascus, right beside the main mosque, there is a plaque to Turkish soldiers who were martyred and it uses that exact word, even though the Turks and the Ottomans before them committed unspeakable crimes there,#
Though the Christians of Bethlehem, nuns included, are no strangers to Israeli war crimes or to theft of their properties, the arrival of the Latin Patriarch into Bethlehem is one of the town’s highlights and is celebrated by Muslims and Christians alike who have little to celebrate as each and every one of them is under Occupation.
Bethlehem, incidentally, is not controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Though it falls under their jurisdiction, it is surrounded by illegal Israeli settlements, all roads into and out of it are controlled by the Israeli military and Israeli drones flying overhead are a regular occurrence.
Many of the Christians of the Bethlehem and the West Bank, such as the Khoury Orthodox family in Taybeh (to where Jesus fled), have relatives in Gaza and many of them have been martyred. The Christians and Muslims of the West Bank have little to celebrate in the normal way and less this year.
Jesus is not reputed to have been born in Manger Square, which is a bit of a kip but in the Church/Basilica of the Nativity which adjoins it. .

Mary Reynolds
7 days ago
Reply to  Declan Hayes

Thanks for all that information, Declan. All the explanatory details that I didn’t know. Roads closed into Bethlehem since you wrote that.
And that hospital attacked just because they assumed Hamas might be underneath. Shows they want to wipe them out.
Very sad. The world is not doing enough to get Israel to stop and LET THEM LIVE.

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