March 2, 2024

Many people in Bethlehem are left with nothing at Christmas

Bethlehem, the biblical birthplace of Jesus Christ, usually attracts religious pilgrims from all over the world. Especially during the Christmas season, the West Bank city's local economy can depend on tourists.

But this year there is no rush. Restaurants are closed, hotel rooms remain empty, and taxi drivers wait at border checkpoints for people who don't come.

Souvenir shops on the legendary Krippenplatz square also lost hope and closed their doors, various media reported. Not even a Christmas tree was put up.

The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is a top attraction for Christians, especially at Christmas. But it also remains almost empty, except for a few local Palestinian faithful.

An unusual nativity play has been set at an Evangelical Lutheran church: the baby Jesus lies amid the rubble, covered by a keffiyeh, the meaningful black-and-white Palestinian veil.

Pastor Munther Ishaq told Sky News: “We want to send a message to the world that in the homeland of Christmas, this is what Christmas looks like.”

Children in the Gaza Strip are lying under the rubble and need to be rescued. This is how people in Gaza spend Christmas. “If Jesus had been born today, he would have been born in the ruins of Gaza,” Isaac told The Washington Post.

Ishaq said that it is impossible to celebrate in Palestine and Bethlehem. Not while “genocide is being committed in our country against our people.”