The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas has severely limited this year’s Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem.
According to report on Monday, Churches in the West Bank, the holy land of Christianity, have called for subdued festivities to acknowledge the suffering experienced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank following Israel’s response to Hamas’ attack on October 7.
The Black Saturday attack by Hamas on October 7 resulted in the loss of 1,200 lives, mostly Israeli civilians. In retaliation, Israel launched a forceful response aimed at eliminating Hamas, but it has led to the deaths of thousands of civilians, with approximately 70% being women and children.
The conflict has resulted in a substantial decline in tourism to Bethlehem, which is often bustling around 150,000 visitors during the Christmas season, negatively impacting the local economy.
The effects of the violence are being felt by the locals, as confrontations between the Israeli Defence Forces and West Bank civilians have intensified, including attacks on Bethlehem residents.
Despite its status as a holy site, Bethlehem has witnessed clashes and protests, with some churches expressing solidarity by setting up installations symbolizing the nativity scene amid the rubble, referencing the situation in Gaza.