Security Forces Clash With Santas in Bethlehem

Christians join protest against Jerusalem move
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 24, 2017 10:08 AM CST
Security Forces Clash With Santas in Bethlehem
A Palestinian dressed as Santa Claus covers his nose from teargas thrown by Israeli border police during a protest in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017.   (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)

Peace on earth and goodwill once again seem to be in short supply in Bethlehem, where Palestinian protesters dressed as Santa Claus clashed with Israeli security forces in the historical birthplace of Jesus Saturday. Israeli soldiers used tear gas and stun grenades to push back the Santas, who were protesting President Trump's decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports. Ahead of midnight mass at the Church of the Nativity, built on the site where Jesus is believed to have been born, the decorations around the town Christmas tree include a banner protesting Trump's decision, the AP reports.

Anton Salman, mayor of the West Bank city, says he wants this Christmas to be especially festive so that people can see Palestinians are people who "deserve our freedom, deserve our independence, deserve Jerusalem as our capital." Jack Giacaman, a Christian Palestinian who owns a shop selling wood carvings, says visitor numbers went down sharply after Trump's announcement. "Trump made a big mistake. He said that Jerusalem is for one religion. For the Jewish people. But Jerusalem is not just for one religion. It is for Muslims and Christians as well," Giacaman tells the Guardian.

(Read more Bethlehem stories.)

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