City officials in the birthplace of Jesus Christ are tearing down Christmas decorations in solidarity with Palestinians amid Israel’s continued invasion of Gaza.
Bethlehem, an ancient city located in the West Bank, declared via social media and official spokespeople that decorations installed in previous years are being removed amid the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
“Bethlehem Municipality crews announced the dismantling of Christmas decorations installed several years ago in the city’s neighborhoods and removing all festive appearances in honor of the martyrs and in solidarity with our people in Gaza,” the city wrote on Facebook, according to the Jerusalem Post.
A city spokesperson also acknowledged the campaign to remove Christmas decorations in a statement to the Telegraph.
“The reason is the general situation in Palestine; 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 said, according to the outlet.
They added, “Therefore, it is not appropriate at all to have such festivities while there is a massacre happening in Gaza and attacks in the West Bank.”
Despite the significance of Bethlehem to Christians and its high religious tourism from the faithful during the Advent season, the city is majority Muslim.
The Christian population of Bethlehem has been in steady decline since the mid-20th century.
In 1950, Christians made up over 80% of the local population but now hover around 10% in a Muslim-dominated region.
Many Christians have chosen to flee the area due to persecution and religious harassment.
Additionally, low birth rates among Christian communities in Bethlehem have also contributed to the collapsing demographic in the West Bank.
Approximately 185,000 Christians live in Israel, where they make up just under 2% of the population, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics.