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In Photos: Christmas Spirit In War-Torn Middle East

In Photos: Christmas Spirit In War-Torn Middle East

A Palestinian man dressed as Santa holds a child Bethlehem, West Bank, December 23, 2019. Credit:AFP

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.”

A Palestinian man dressed as Santa holds a child Bethlehem, West Bank, December 23, 2019. AFP
Palestinians wearing Christmas costumes distribute gifts to children seated atop the rubble of a demolished house in Bethlehem, December 23, 2019. Credit: AFP
Palestinian children dressed as Santa Claus jump near the Israeli barrier during an anti-Israel protest, near Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank December 23, 2019. (Reuters)
Priests pray in the Grotto of the Church of the Nativity in the biblical West Bank city of Bethlehem on December 24, 2019. – (AFP)
People gather around Christmas tree at Latin Church in Gaza City, Gaza on 14 December 2019 [Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency]
Kurdistan’s Erbil first ever Christmas Festival (Credit: Rudaw)
A man dressed in a Santa Claus costume rides a camel during the annual Christmas tree distribution organized by the Jerusalem municipality in Jerusalem’s Old City, December 19, 2019. Ammar Awad/Reuters

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