Palestine church uses debris as Xmas tree to protest Israeli attacktext_fields
Bethlehem, Palestine: A church in the occupied West Bank's historic city of Bethlehem, opted for an unconventional Christmas decoration this year, using debris instead of a traditional Christmas tree, in response to Israel's attacks on Gaza.
"While genocide is being committed against our people in Gaza, we cannot celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ this year in any way. We don't feel like celebrating.," the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem's pastor Munzir Ishak told Anadolu, Turkey's state-run news agency.
In contrast to the festive atmosphere with brightly decorated streets and illuminated cities in the Christian world during Christmas, churches in occupied Palestine chose to refrain from extravagant activities, limiting celebrations to prayers and divine rituals.
This year, rather than adorning a Christmas tree, the church opted for a unique decoration crafted from debris, serving as a poignant symbol of the destruction in Gaza.
The decoration features a mound composed of concrete pieces encircling an olive sapling. At the centre of this arrangement, a toy baby is positioned to evoke the image of an infant trapped under debris.
Surrounding this symbolic wreckage, broken tree branches, various icons, and candles are arranged.
Ishak said featuring the wreckage decoration instead of Christmas decorations in the church is a message for themselves and the world. "Our message to ourselves is this: God is with us in this pain. Christ was born in solidarity with those in pain and suffering. God is with the oppressed," he said.
"Secondly, we wanted to tell churches worldwide: 'Unfortunately, Christmas in Palestine is like this.' Whether Christian or Muslim, this is the situation we are going through in Palestine. We are exposed to a genocide war targeting all Palestinians. Unfortunately, when we think of the birth of Baby Christ, we think of the babies brutally killed in Gaza," he added.
The Christian clergy highlighted that Israel's attack on Gaza has "killed the Christmas spirit."
Christians from around the world visit the city of Bethlehem at the end of December each year to celebrate Christmas, believing it to be the birthplace of Jesus. Visitors to the city come to the Church of the Nativity, built over a cave believed to be where the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ.