Prince Charles enters Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem
Bethlehem, Jesus’ birthplace, has officially cancelled Christmas for the first time in decades due to the Israel-Hamas war.
The Palestinian city in the West Bank has announced its usual Christmas decorations will be taken down this year.
Bethlehem will also put a stop to its usual celebrations “in honor of the martyrs and in solidarity with our people in Gaza.”
This means there will be no Christmas tree put up in Manger Square – the spot where Jesus is said to be born.
This marks the first time Bethlehem has cancelled Christmas celebrations since the tradition began – the square was still decorated even during the Covid-19 pandemic.
A Bethlehem municipality spokesperson confirmed the normal Christmas plans have been discarded ahead of December 25.
The spokesperson said: “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.
“Bethlehem should send its own message of condolence and mourning.”
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While a Christmas “mass and prayers” is still set to take place, no lights or decorations will be hung anywhere in the area.
Bethlehem has a population of approximately 25,000 people, and it sits just six miles south of Jerusalem in the Palestinian-controlled West Bank.
For decades, Christians from all around the world have gone on a pilgrimage to Manger Square and the Church of Nativity to celebrate the birth of Christ.
The town has been empty of visitors since Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel.
This comes as Israel continues its ground invasion into Gaza targeting Hamas.
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