As the joyous season of Christmas has begun, Dr. Ramzi Khouri, Member of the PLO Executive Committee and Head of the Higher Presidential Committee for Churches Affairs in Palestine sent a letter to Churches leaders, reminding them of the dire situation in Gaza, which is casting a somber shadow over Christmas celebrations in the Holy Land.
Dr. Khouri highlights the ongoing Israeli genocide in Gaza, which has claimed the lives of 18,000 of innocent Palestinians, 70& of them are women and children. Additionally, nearly 50,000 have been wounded and 1.8 million are forcibly displaced, in a scene similar to that of the painful 1948 Nakba. The devastation includes the bombardment of homes, institutions, and places of worship, including the third oldest church in the world, the St. Porphyrius Greek Orthodox Church, and the oldest Mosque in Gaza, Al Omari Mosque.
This Christmas, the city of Bethlehem, traditionally a place of joy during this season, will not celebrate Christmas season this year. Churches have decided to cancel festivities in response to the brutal aggression on Gaza. The letter also sheds light on the escalating violence in the West Bank, with daily military raids and a campaign of ethnic cleansing, and Israeli plans to steal a land belonging to the Armenian community in Jerusalem.
The international community’s response has been criticized, with Dr. Khouri pointing out the United States’ veto at the United Nations, hindering efforts to reach a ceasefire, thus making it a partner in the killing of Palestinians. He pleads for the world’s churches to speak out and denounce Israeli aggression, emphasizing that silence is complicity.
Thanking churches that have courageously denounced Israeli crimes and advocated for Palestinian right, at the same time Dr. Khouri urges churches and individuals worldwide to remember those who are suffering in Christmas, stand up for Palestinian rights, denounce the injustices, and push for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza.