Church leaders in Jerusalem have canceled Christmas celebrations in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories in light of the war between Israel and Hamas.
On Nov. 10, leaders from the main Christian churches in Jerusalem issued a statement asking people to avoid “any unnecessarily festive activities”.
They said the decision comes as the war between Israel and Hamas has not stopped despite their “repeated calls for a humanitarian ceasefire and a de-escalation of violence”.
They have encouraged people “to advocate, pray, and contribute” to the thousands of people affected by the war.
“We likewise encourage our priests and the faithful to focus more on the spiritual meaning of Christmas in their pastoral activities and liturgical celebrations during this period,” the statement said.
In the Palestinian town of Bethlehem, the town where Jesus Christ was said to have been born, authorities have canceled Christmas decorations ”in honor of the martyrs and in solidarity with our people in Gaza”.
“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,” a spokesperson of Bethlehem’s city told the Telegraph.
Churches in Jordan have also canceled Christmas in “solidarity with the people of Gaza” and will focus only on religious activities.
More than 11,000 people in Gaza have been killed by Israeli airstrikes, and 1,200 people in Israel have been killed during Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel.