Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus Christ, turns grim on Christmas Eve amid Israel-Hamas war

The city of Bethlehem, revered as the birthplace of Jesus Christ, took on a somber tone this Christmas Eve as fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza escalated.

Christmas Celebrations Cancelled

Normally bustling with Christmas celebrations and pilgrims visiting the Church of the Nativity, the streets of Bethlehem were eerily quiet on December 24th according to reports from Al Jazeera and Reuters. All Christmas Eve celebrations and events were cancelled due to security concerns as Israel carried out airstrikes on Gaza in retaliation for rocket attacks by Hamas militants. The cancellations and lack of visitors dealt a heavy economic blow to Bethlehem’s businesses.

A Somber Christmas Message

During his annual Christmas Eve mass at the Church of the Nativity, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa delivered a somber message. He spoke of bringing peace to the Holy Land and an end to the cycle of violence, saying “Where is the glory of the highest, if the land walks in darkness and death?” according to reports from Catholic News Agency.

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