Bethlehem cancels Christmas celebrations to mourn Hamas losses

The town will be dark in solidarity with Gaza, said the municipality.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Bethlehem municipality has decided to go dark in the run-up to Christmas due to its mourning over Hamas losses in the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip, The Telegraph reported Wednesday.

A spokesman for the Palestinian Authority-controlled town told the British paper that it would take down “all festive appearances in honor of the martyrs and in solidarity with our people in Gaza.”

The traditional tree-lighting ceremony has been cancelled and the birthplace of Jesus will not be decorated with lights as it usually is.

The reason, he added, “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.”

Calling the sadness in the city “unprecedented,” he said that “the world should see” this and “realize that these are not normal circumstances.”

“Mass and prayers,” which are more appropriate to the circumstances, will still take place, he said, and the municipality would publish soon its toned-down schedule of festive events.

Contrary to Palestinian claims, the IDF has done its utmost to protect Gazan civilians since Israel declared war on Hamas following its brutal massacre of 1,200 people and kidnapping of 240, including the elderly and infants, during its invasion of Jewish communities on October 7. During its bombing campaign of Hamas military targets, the air force warns residents ahead of time to leave so they are not killed acting as human shields for the terrorists.

The IDF also warned civilians in the northern part of the enclave for over two weeks to flee south so they would not get caught up in the army’s ground invasion. Israeli units protect current humanitarian corridors from Hamas fire, and have personally ushered civilians away from live battle zones.

Bethlehem is a shadow of the Christian town it used to be, having seen a sharp decline in Christian residents since being incorporated into the PA thanks to the Oslo Accords. The Christian population has dropped from a high of 84%  to 22% as of 2020 according to some reports, and perhaps as low as 12%, according to others.

One of the main reasons is the constant violence being perpetrated against them by their Moslem neighbors, aided and abetted by the Muslim authorities, causing them to flee. A 2016 report for the Hudson Institute, a Washington-based conservative think tank, said that local Christians are not only discriminated against, they live in fear of being detained by the authorities on imaginary charges.

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