All Christmas festivities have been cancelled in Bethlehem in the West Bank to show solidarity towards the people of Gaza.
Bethlehem, traditionally known for its joyous and light-filled Christmas celebrations, is taking a different approach this year.
In solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza, the municipality of Bethlehem has organised an artwork called “Nativity under the Rubble” in Manger Square where a decorated Christmas tree usually stands.
The event was inaugurated by Rula Maayah, the Palestinian Minister of Tourism, and Hana Hananiyeh, the Mayor of Bethlehem, on Saturday night.
The artwork depicts the nativity scene amidst the remnants of a demolished building, symbolising the struggles and suffering faced by the Palestinian people in Gaza.
“This is a message to the whole world that the whole world is celebrating Christmas, but not Bethlehem. Bethlehem this year is celebrating Christmas in a different way with a message to the whole world that Palestine is suffering. That Bethlehem is suffering. That Bethlehem is celebrating Christmas from the rubble. Not like all other people in the world,” Rula Maayah said.
Mayor Hana Hananiyeh drew parallels with the nativity story and the current situation in Gaza.
He said that the forced displacement of Palestinian families by the Israeli occupation echoed the Holy Family’s escape from King Herod’s decree.
Hananiyeh called on the international community to intervene and address the injustices faced by Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank.
Israel declared war after Hamas gunmen stormed across the border on October 7, killing some 1,200 people and taking some 240 hostages.
More than 20,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s war to destroy Hamas and more than 53,000 have been wounded, according to health officials in Gaza.
Despite mounting international calls for a cease-fire, Israel has vowed to keep up the fight until Hamas is destroyed and removed from power in Gaza and all the hostages are freed.