Sitting on the rubble of a demolished house, a Palestinian man dressed as Santa holds a child next to a sign that reads “see you next Christmas in ICC (International Criminal Court)”. Once again, Christians in the Middle East are forced to celebrate Christmas amid bloodshed and turmoil, leading even to leaders of Iraq’s Christians canceling Christmas-related celebrations in solidarity with the deaths over anti-government protests.
However, despite the heartache, some local communities continue to taste the Christmas holiday spirit as a form of escape from the difficulties.
Palestinian Authority Tourism Minister Rula Maayah told The Media Line that 2019 has seen a rise in tourism for Christmas celebrations good year, rising by 15.4% over 2018.
“This year we had 3.5 million tourists, the largest number since we started counting visitors to Palestine,” Maayah said. “Among them, 2.7 million stayed in Palestinian hotels. This is important to us.”