Gaza’s Orthodox Christians celebrated Christmas on January 7. Church bells were rung and the Christians exchanged seasonal greetings with their Muslim neighbours.
Contrary to common misconceptions, Palestinian Christians and Muslims co-exist in relative harmony in the Gaza Strip, even though the former make up less than one per cent of the population. Their religious and civil rights are ensured and protected by the Hamas-led government.
Last month, two hundred Roman Catholic Palestinians were allowed by the Israeli authorities to travel from Gaza to Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas on December 25. They normally face many restrictions on travel to Bethlehem as the Israeli occupation authorities do not differentiate between Muslims or Christians when it comes to persecution and repression.
Indeed, it is acknowledged by community and religious leaders of both faith groups that Christians and Muslims in the Occupied Palestinian Territories all suffer from the effects of Israel’s brutal military occupation.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad