Bethlehem celebrates Christmas in silence and sadness and the Pope regrets the “losing logic of war” Bethlehem celebrates Christmas in silence and sadness and the Pope regrets the “losing logic of war”

Bethlehem celebrates Christmas in silence and sadness and the Pope regrets the “losing logic of war”

Bethlehem celebrates Christmas in silence and sadness and the Pope regrets the “losing logic of war”

Unusually, Christmas Day in Palestine this year was filled with sadness and silence, without joy, without decorations, and without a Christmas tree, as in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, which was accustomed to that, while Pope Francis expressed his regret at the “losing logic of war.”

Unusually, due to the devastating Israeli war on Gaza, sadness and silence prevailed, and the usual Christmas celebrations were absent from the Church of Bethlehem in Palestine.

At the time of the celebration on Sunday evening, Israel intensified its military operations in the central and southern Gaza Strip, and the holiday celebrations were absent in the Church of the Nativity, which was content with prayers and calls for peace, nearly 3 months after the outbreak of the most deadly war in the history of wars between Israel and the Palestinians.

The municipality of Bethlehem decided to cancel celebrations due to the war in Gaza, and the Christmas tree and signs of joy were absent in the city, to which the holiday attracted thousands annually.

Like other Christians, Palestinian Fadi Sayegh (20 years old) is spending Christmas this year in the city of Khan Yunis instead of visiting the Holy Land.

No joy, no decorations, no Christmas tree

Sayegh said while undergoing a dialysis session at a hospital in Khan Yunis, which was the scene of the recent battles: “At these times every year, we are in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Ramallah celebrating with our families and relatives,” adding: “We should have been praying and visiting the holy places by now.” But we are under bombardment and war, there is no joy for Eid, no Christmas tree, no decorations, no family dinner, and no celebrations.”

He continued: "I pray that the war will end as soon as possible."

Nabila Saleh (47 years old), who is in the Holy Family Church in the Old City in central Gaza City, said: “All Christmas celebrations have been canceled and limited to prayers.”

She added: "How do we celebrate when my country is wounded? How do we celebrate when my country is destroyed, my family is displaced, my brothers in the homeland are sad, and our martyrs are not buried in the streets, while others are under the rubble?"

From Bethlehem, the Palestinian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Rula Maayah, said: “Christmas is upon us this year, and we are living in the most difficult and darkest circumstances and times as a result of what our people are suffering in the besieged Gaza Strip, and in all the cities, villages, and camps of the West Bank and Jerusalem, as a result of the continuing Israeli aggression against our people.” .

Meanwhile, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Cardinal Berbattista Pizzaballa, arrived in the courtyard of the Church of the Nativity, placing the Palestinian keffiyeh around his neck. He said: "Our hearts are with Gaza, with all the people in Gaza, especially our Christian flock who are suffering, but we know that we are not the only ones suffering."

The Patriarch continued: "We are here to pray, and we ask not only for a ceasefire. We must stop these hostilities and turn the page because violence only breeds violence."

The Latin Patriarchate announced earlier this month that a Christian woman and her daughter were killed by Israeli bullets in the courtyard of the Holy Family Church.

Birth under the rubble

In the same context, the head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bethlehem and Beit Sahour, Pastor Munther Ishaq, said, “If Christ were born today, he would be born under the rubble,” in reference to the devastating Israeli war on the Gaza Strip.

He added in an event held in Bethlehem on the occasion of Christmas, that "Christmas comes this year and death and destruction are spreading and rubble covers our land. We welcome Christmas in this way." He said: "My prayer is that you see it today in every child killed and pulled from under the rubble, and every child in destroyed hospitals and incubators."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said late in his Christmas message: “The birth of Jesus Christ comes this year, and the city of birth, Bethlehem, is experiencing a sadness that you have never seen before this day.”

Christmas Eve raids and the losing logic of war

For his part, Pope Francis of the Vatican, during the Roman Catholic Christmas Mass on Sunday, expressed his regret that the message of peace that Christ spread was being lost under the weight of the “losing logic of war” in the same land in which he was born.

The Pope said: “Tonight our heart is in Bethlehem, where the Prince of Peace continues to be rejected by the losing logic of war, with the roar of weapons that today also prevents him from having a place in the world.”

Israeli air strikes on homes in the Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on Christmas Eve led to the death of at least 70 people, according to the Ministry of Health in the Strip.

In addition to the massive destruction that leveled a huge number of buildings and residential neighborhoods, the humanitarian conditions are catastrophic in the Gaza Strip, where the majority of hospitals are out of service, while the United Nations fears a famine that threatens the entire population.

In a related development, the Jordanian army announced on Sunday that it had airdropped humanitarian aid to about 800 besieged people in the Church of St. Porphyrius in the northern Gaza Strip.

“The war goals are unrealistic.” The former head of Israeli intelligence responds to Netanyahu

The former head of military intelligence, Aharon Zeevi Farkash, said that the goals set by Israel for its ongoing war in Gaza are “not realistic,” in response to the Israeli government’s repeated assertion that it will not stop its war in Gaza before achieving all its goals, including the liquidation of Hamas leaders.

Former Israeli military intelligence chief Aharon Zeevi Farkash said it was "impossible" to end the war in Gaza without the return of detainees.

Ze'evi Farkash said, on Monday, in an interview with the Hebrew news website Ynet that the goals set by Israel for its ongoing war against the Gaza Strip are "not realistic."

He continued: "We have begun to destroy Hamas, but in the meantime there is a decisive challenge. It is impossible to end the war without the return of the kidnapped," according to the interview with the online version of the Hebrew newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

Benjamin Netanyahu's government had set the goals of its war on the Gaza Strip since last October 7, by ending Hamas' rule in Gaza, eliminating its military capabilities and returning Israeli prisoners, but to date, the Israeli government has not announced the achievement of any of these goals.

Earlier Monday, the official Hebrew Broadcasting Corporation revealed that Israel is “studying a settlement that would entail the deportation of Hamas leaders abroad” with the aim of ending the war.

This is a clear reduction of the Israeli ambition after eliminating the movement and its leaders was a priority in the war in which Tel Aviv suffered many material and human losses over the course of 80 days.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly stressed that Israel will not stop its war in Gaza before achieving all its goals, including liquidating Hamas leaders, the first of which is its leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, and the leader of the movement’s military wing, Muhammad al-Deif, and has allocated material rewards for anyone who provides information indicating their whereabouts. .

Netanyahu said earlier on Sunday that the Israeli army "is expanding the war in the Gaza Strip, and will not stop it until its goals are achieved."

He added in a speech broadcast by the official Israeli Broadcasting Authority: “War has a very high price, and it is the only way to return our kidnappers, eliminate Hamas, and ensure that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel.”

Since last October 7, the Israeli army has been waging a devastating war on Gaza, which, as of Sunday, has left 20,424 martyrs, 54,36 wounded, most of them children and women, massive destruction of infrastructure, and an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe, according to the Gaza Strip authorities and the United Nations.
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