A total of 253 Palestinians have been killed by Israel’s occupation forces and Jewish settlers in the West Bank since October 7.
The birthplace of Jesus, Bethlehem, will go without a Christmas tree this year as Palestinian Christians scale back festivities amid Israel’s brutal war on Gaza, Reuters reported.
Nestled in the occupied West Bank near Jerusalem, Bethlehem is accustomed to hosting vibrant pre-Christmas festivities. However, this year the ongoing relentless war in Gaza, located just 50 kilometres away, has stolen the mood for celebrations from many.
Ibrahim Faltas, a senior Franciscan friar, described the unprecedented sombre atmosphere, saying: “We have never seen Bethlehem like this, not even during the time of COVID. The town is empty, sad.”
“Today was meant to be a joyous day,” he added.
Since October 7, Israel’s onslaught on Gaza has claimed the lives of more than 15,207, according to authorities in Gaza, whereas Euro-Med reported a higher figure of 21,022, including 8,312 children.
Palestinians in Bethlehem share the pain of the war 50 km away, mourning the loss of innocent lives. Faltas told Reuters: “Many children, women, the elderly, the people who were martyred in this crazy war.”
“We will celebrate in sobriety,” said Francesco Patton of the Custody of the Holy Land church group as no Christmas tree will be erected in Nativity Square.
“That means without the fanfare and without too many lights, in the most spiritual way and more [among] families than in the square.”
A total of 253 Palestinians were killed by the occupation forces and settlers in the West Bank since October 7 when Israel launched a relentless war on Gaza, according to the West Bank-based Palestinian Health Ministry. More than 3,100 were also injured.
A Palestinian was killed on Saturday and 15 others were injured by Israeli settler gunfire in the northern occupied West Bank.
The official Palestinian news agency, WAFA, said the Israeli forces shielded the settlers while they engaged in their rampage.