Despite Israeli Ban, Gaza’s Christians Greet Christmas with Prayers of Peace (PHOTOS)

Palestinian Christians celebrate Christmas in Gaza. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Mahmoud Ajjour - Gaza

With songs and hymns, Palestinian Christians in Gaza celebrated the lighting of the Christmas tree inside the Holy Family Church, despite an Israeli ban, which prevented hundreds of Christians from reaching the holy shrines in Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

The tree was lit by Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, and with that, the church declared the official beginning of Christian holidays. A sense of joy prevailed throughout the event, where the Christian community in Gaza sang for peace. 

Fuad Iyad, a young Palestinian Christian, told The Palestine Chronicle, “We send, with our celebrations of Christmas, a message of love and peace to the whole Arab world.” 

“We are doing our utmost to bring happiness to Palestinian Christians in Gaza as Christmas day draws closer. This is our way of compensating for the travel ban by the Israeli occupation which is preventing us from reaching Jerusalem,” Iyad added.

Preventing Palestinian Christians in Gaza from reaching the holy Palestinian city of Jerusalem is an annual occurrence. Despite Palestinian and international pleas, Israel refuses to grant permits to hundreds of Gaza Christians, hoping to be reunited with their loved ones in the occupied Palestinian city. 

“We hope that Israel will rescind its decision to ban us from entering Jerusalem. Visiting our holy shrines and traveling is a human right,” Iyad added. 

Despite this, Gazan Christians were happy to greet Archbishop Pizzaballa, who came to show love and solidarity with the Christian community in besieged Gaza.

Numerous photos were taken and countless selfies with the Christmas tree, as worshippers donned their beautiful attires and readied themselves for a long holiday celebration, which is scheduled to end in early January.

(All Photos: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

- Mahmoud Ajjour is a Gaza-based photojournalist. He is the Palestine Chronicle's correspondent in the Gaza Strip.
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