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.