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'Bethlehem is a small cage': Palestinian psychologist on Christmas 2023

Bethlehem-based Palestinian psychologist Jumana Kaplanian Halabi tells MEMO the occupied holy city has become ‘a small cage’ as Israeli restrictions keep residents locked in.

December 27, 2023 at 10:00 am

As Israel’s war on Gaza rages, Christmas 2023 has been a muted affair, with celebrations cancelled in Bethlehem. “As a Palestinian, you cannot celebrate while the massacre and genocide is going on. You can’t be happy while your brother and sister are being killed,” the founder of Psychology Spa, which has been offering free psychological support to residents affected by the ongoing war, says. “People who are witnessing the killing are also dealing with anxiety, dealing with anger, dealing with frustration, dealing with helplessness.”

At least 20,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, mostly women and children, since Israel waged war on the besieged territory in the aftermath of the events of 7 October 2023.

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