GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Despite the fierce war the Gaza Strip went through in May when many families lost their loved ones and homes, Gazans from different religions continue to look for life and peace.
The coastal enclave’s Christians celebrate by lighting a Christmas tree, which to them symbolizes love and peace. More than 1,000 Christians live in Gaza. Double that number have migrated abroad between the West Bank and other countries in search of life and safety — something they were deprived of because of Israel’s policies and harassment of Palestinians who live in the besieged enclave.
The YMCA in Gaza has lit the Christmas tree for the past three years in an attempt to bring joy and happiness into the hearts of children.
YMCA secretary-general Hani Farah told Al-Monitor, “Despite the hardships the Gaza Strip is going through on the economic and political levels, the [tree-lighting] party made hundreds of people happy. We seek to keep holding this annual event because it is the only way to celebrate Christmas for kids.”
“The situation this year is particularly difficult because of the harsher blockade, the recent war and the COVID-19 pandemic. We really wish we could live in peace like other people and be able to move freely to meet family and friends in Bethlehem. This tree is a symbol of love and peace, a message that we send to the entire world to give us our right to freedom and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state,” Palestinian citizen Samer Tarazi said.