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 not to stage the traditional Christmas tree and festive decorations in Manger Square, which has seen Christmas decorations ever since modern celebrations of the season began.
It will be the first time festive decorations will not be seen in the spot, 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.
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 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, while around two-thirds of the territory’s 2.3 million people have now fled their homes.