The historical Christian city of Bethlehem has decided to remove all Christmas decorations from public places in honor of terrorists killed by Israel in the Gaza Strip, the Bethlehem Municipality said this week.
The decorations were removed “in honor of the martyrs and in solidarity with our people in Gaza,” the municipality announced in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
A spokesperson for the Judean city told The Telegraph that “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.”
The spokesman added: “It is not appropriate at all to have such festivities while there is a massacre happening in Gaza and attacks in the West Bank.”
The traditional Christmas mass and prayers will still take place, but without Christmas trees or festive lights.
The town of Bethlehem usually attracts thousands of visitors in the run-up to Christmas, as Christian tourists make a pilgrimage to Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity.
Only some 33,000 local Christians remain in the three towns of the Bethlehem area, according to 2022 estimates.
In Bethlehem, only one in five residents is Christian, a sharp decline since the town was placed under Palestinian Authority control in 1995, when 80% of the town identified as Christian.