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No place for Christmas in Gaza

December 24, 2023 at 8:48 pm

A view of the damaged historical Greek Orthodox Saint Porphyrius Church, where civilians took shelter, after Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Gaza on October 20, 2023. [Ali Jadallah – Anadolu Agency]

The devastating impact of the Israeli occupation on the Christian community in Gaza is a tragic tale of loss, betrayal, and ongoing suffering. Over a thousand Christians will not know Christmas this year.

Christians in Gaza, have not only lost their places of worship but have also endured the pain of losing loved ones in mass killings that have shocked the world.

Christmas Shrouded in Sorrow: The Absence of Festivity in Gaza’s Grievous Reality

In less than three months, more than 20,000 lives have been lost in Gaza due to the occupation’s actions. The situation is not new, and those who closely follow events are well aware of the grim reality. However, what adds to the distress are the actions of some priests who, contrary to the path set by figures like Father Manuel Musallam, have engaged with the head of the occupying state as if the atrocities against their churches and compatriots never occurred.

These acts of betrayal are particularly egregious considering the timing and context. How can these priests face their congregations when they shake hands with the perpetrator of violence against their own community, the demolisher of their churches, and the assailant of their homeland?

WATCH: Bethlehem marches in silence as Christmas is cancelled over Gaza

Gaza, in the clutches of the occupation, faces extermination, collective punishment, and ethnic cleansing. The once vibrant sound of church bells has fallen silent, and the cherished Christmas tree lighting tradition, including at the Young Men’s Christian Association, has been snuffed out.

Pope’s Concern: Civilians Targeted, Innocence Shattered

Pope Francis, the leader of the Vatican, addressed these dire circumstances in the “Angelus Prayer,” expressing deep concern over the painful and severe news emerging from Gaza. Civilians, he noted, bear the brunt of bombings and shootings, with instances of a mother and her daughter falling victim to snipers even within the Holy Family Parish—where there are no terrorists, only families, children, and vulnerable individuals.

Eyewitnesses report Israeli tanks surrounding the Al-Zaytoun neighborhood targeting anyone moving inside the church compound. This is not the first Christmas marred by occupation for the Christians of Gaza; their joy has been incomplete since 1967, exacerbated by the 17-year siege and repeated aggressions in 2008, 2012, 2014, 2021, and the latest horrific one in 2023.

READ: Number of journalists killed in Gaza rises to 101: Government media office

Military experts have labelled the recent campaign as one of the most bloody and destructive in history. The occupation’s brutal actions, targeting women, children, schools, and hospitals, leave the wounded without treatment and mercilessly execute even those raising white flags in surrender. The world bears witness to the occupier’s brutality.

In the United Kingdom, even staunchly biased media figures like Nick Ferrari and Piers Morgan criticise the Tel Aviv narrative, particularly in the wake of the attacks on the Christians of Gaza.

But as long as the occupation persists with the unwavering support of Washington and London, Gaza remains bereft of holidays.

Despite the atrocity and cruelty, there is a glimmer of hope within these events—a harbinger of change that signifies the eventual end of the occupation and the return of rights to their rightful owners, albeit at a high cost.

This journey is the nature of conflicts, a double price paid for the betrayal and official abandonment that Palestine experiences from its Arab and Islamic surroundings. As the conflict unfolds, there remains hope for justice and the restoration of peace to a troubled land.

Translated from the original article by Adnan Hmidan

READ: Gaza death toll from Israeli attacks since Oct. 7 rises to 20,258: Health Ministry

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.