The West Bank city of Bethlehem has stripped all decorations celebrating Christmas from the place revered as the birthplace of Jesus Christ.
“Bethlehem Municipality crews announced the dismantling of Christmas decorations installed several years ago in the city’s neighborhoods and removing all festive appearances in honor of the martyrs and in solidarity with our people in Gaza,” the municipality wrote on Facebook.
باشرت طواقم بلدية بيت لحم بفك زينة عيد الميلاد المثبتة منذ عدة سنوات في أحياء المدينة وإزالة كافة مظاهر الاحتفال حداداً على أرواح الشهداء وتضامناً مع أهلنا في غزة الأبية.
The Daily Telegraph reports a spokesman declared, “The reason is the general situation in Palestine; 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.
“This year the situation in Bethlehem is unprecedented and the mood and vibes are extremely sad, and that is exactly what the world should see, and realize that these are not normal circumstances.
“Bethlehem should send out its own message of condolence and mourning.”
Some prayers and religious ceremonies will still be allowed to take place, LBC reported, however the traditional Christmas tree and festive decorations in Manger Square, which has seen Christmas decorations ever since modern celebrations of the season began, have been cleared.
This is not the first time Bethlehem has been used as a site of protest at Christmas.
In 2017 the Palestinian Authority responded to President Donald Trump’s official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel with fiery denunciations and turning off the lights on Christmas trees.
Bethlehem has a population of around 25,000 people but attracts thousands of tourists from across the world in the run up to Christmas, including Christians who go on a pilgrimage to Manger Square, as Breitbart News reported.