Bethlehem, the biblical birthplace of Jesus Christ, usually attracts religious pilgrims from around the world. The West Bank city's local economy can rely on tourists, especially during the Christmas season.
But this year there is no rush. Restaurants are closed, hotel rooms are empty, and taxi drivers wait at border checkpoints for absentees.
Souvenir shops at the legendary Krippenplatz have also given up hope and closed, according to various media reports. Not even a Christmas tree was put up.
The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is the ultimate attraction for Christians, especially during Christmas. But it too is almost empty, except for a few local Palestinian believers.
An unusual nativity play was staged in an Evangelical Lutheran church: the baby Jesus lies amid the rubble, covered in a meaningful black-and-white Palestinian headscarf keffi.
Pastor Munther Isaac tells “Sky News”: “We want to send the message to the world that in the homeland of Christmas, this is what Christmas looks like.”
Children lie in the rubble of Gaza and must be rescued. This is how people in Gaza celebrate Christmas. “If Jesus was born today, he would be born in the ruins of Gaza,” Isaac told the Washington Post.
Isaac said it was impossible to celebrate in Palestine and Bethlehem. Not when “in our country, genocide is being committed against our people”.
“Wannabe pop culture fanatic. Zombie advocate. Entrepreneur. Internet evangelist. Alcohol fanatic. Typical travel buff.”