For centuries, Christians from all over the world have been making pilgrimages to Bethlehem, especially at Christmas time: as everyone knows, Jesus is said to have been born in the small town south of Jerusalem, which now has 30,000 inhabitants.
But everything should be different this coming Christmas: Palestinian authorities have canceled the annual Christmas exhibition in Bethlehem amid the ongoing conflict with Israel – apparently “in honor of the slain Hamas martyrs”, according to the Jerusalem Post and Britain’s Daily Mail.
The Bethlehem community also announced plans to remove the traditional Christmas tree and festive decorations in Manger Square, which has been decorated for Christmas since the festivities began. It is the first time that there will be no festive decorations for Christmas at the place where Jesus Christ was born.
Community representatives from the West Bank city said of the measures: “The reason for all this is the general situation in Palestine. People are not really celebrating, they are sad, angry and upset. “Our people are being brutally massacred in Gaza.”
Therefore, when there are killings in Gaza and attacks in the West Bank, it is “inappropriate” to celebrate. “The situation in Bethlehem this year is unprecedented and the mood is extremely tense. This is what the world needs to see and realize that these are not normal circumstances.”