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No Christmas in Bethlehem as Israel-Hamas war rages on

 

Bethlehem, a city in the Israeli-occupied West Bank in
Palestine, and the biblical birthplace of Jesus Christ, sits eerily quiet this
Christmas.

 

The usual festive throngs that rock the major Christian
pilgrimage destination are absent this year owing to the raging war between
Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian militant group.

 

Christmas day in the occupied West Bank began with an attack
on the Jenin refugee camp where at least 52 Palestinians have been killed
following Israel’s retaliatory attacks.

 

Bethlehem was among the towns struck in a series of raids
across the territory on Monday morning, where dozens were arrested and a
17-year-old boy was shot in the neck.

 

 “Tonight, our hearts
are in Bethlehem, where the Prince of Peace is once more rejected by the futile
logic of war, by the clash of arms that even today prevents him from finding
room in the world,” Pope Francis tweeted.

 

The West Bank has seen surging violence and arrests parallel
to Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip despite Hamas having limited presence in the
region.

 

The Hamas-run health ministry says Israeli troops have
killed more than 20,000 Palestinians. But Israel has accused Hamas of inflating
the casualty figures to manipulate the situation in their favour.

 

There have been several calls from foreign nations and
global organisations urging a ceasefire, including a rare condemnation from the
United States, Israel’s closest ally.

 

But the Jewish nation has rejected the pleas, vowing to
uproot Hamas.

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