Christmas display in Bethlehem is cancelled by Palestinian authorities

Christmas display in Bethlehem is cancelled by Palestinian authorities ‘in honour of Hamas martyrs’ as Israel continues to battle terrorists in Gaza

  • It is the first time decorations will not be seen in Manger Square in modern times
  • Authorities say plans were scrapped ‘in solidarity with our people in Gaza’ 

The annual Christmas display in Bethlehem has been cancelled by Palestinian authorities ‘in honour of Hamas martyrs’ amid the ongoing conflict with Israel. 

Bethlehem Municipality announced the plans to do away with the traditional Christmas tree and festive decorations in Manger Square, which has seen Christmas decorations ever since modern celebrations of the season began. 

It’s the first time festive decorations will not be seen in the spot which is said to have been where Jesus Christ was born. 

The West Bank town’s authorities told The Telegraph normal plans had been scrapped ‘in honour of the martyrs and in solidarity with our people in Gaza’. 

The traditional Christmas mass and prayers will still be observed, without the usual Christmas tree or festive lights ‘installed in any part of the city’, which sits just six miles south of Jerusalem, a spokesperson told the newspaper. 

Bethlehem Municipality announced the plans to do away with the traditional Christmas tree and festive decorations in Manger Square

It has been claimed the move is ‘in honour of Hamas martyrs’ as Israel continues to battle terrorists in Gaza

The West Bank town’s authorities said normal plans had been scrapped ‘in honour of the martyrs and in solidarity with our people in Gaza ‘

Further plans for the festive period in the area are expected to be announced in the coming days.  

‘The reason is the general situation in Palestine; people are not really into any celebration, they are sad, angry and upset’, they said. 

‘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’. 

‘This year the situation in Bethlehem is unprecedented and the mood and vibes are extremely sad, and that is exactly what the world should see, and realise that these are not normal circumstances,’ they added.

‘Bethlehem should send out its own message of condolence and mourning.’

The town of Bethlehem is usually a tourist trap in the run up to Christmas, with Christians embarking on a pilgrimage to Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity. 

The church has a prominent religious significance around the globe to Christians as the recognised birthplace of Jesus, and is the oldest site continuously used as a place of worship in Christianity. 

The town of Bethlehem is usually a tourist trap in the run up to Christmas

Christmas decorations are usually a welcome site in the square in Bethlehem 

People attend Christmas celebrations around Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, West Bank, in January this year

It’s the first time festive decorations will not be seen in the spot which is said to have been where Jesus Christ was born

People collect items among the rubble of buildings destroyed in Israeli airstrikes in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis

A child reacts as people salvage belongings amid the rubble of a damaged building following strikes on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip last week

A UNESCO World Heritage site, it has been associated with being the birthplace of Jesus since the fourth century AD. Since then, buildings had been added to it, with the existing church dating back to the sixth century AD. 

But, since Hamas launched its attack in Israel on October 7 and the subsequent conflict, the town has been much quieter than it usually is in the run up to the Christmas period. 

The war between Israel and Hamas erupted on October 7 after the militant group killed some 1,200 people and seized around 240 captives. Meanwhile, Israeli airstrikes have killed more than 11,200 people, according to the Palestinian Health Minister in Ramallah. 

Another 2,700 have been reported missing. 

Around two third of the territory’s 2.3 million people have now fled their homes, with most currently residing in the southern part of the coastal strip. 

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