Approximately 3,000 Christian Palestinians live in Gaza, with many families forced to the coastal enclave in 1948 from Al Majdal and other nearby towns. Few of those who now have family in the West Bank are able to visit this holiday season, where Christmas celebrations are substantially larger and more festive. Nevertheless, Palestinian Christians in Gaza have been gearing up for the celebration, determined to enjoy Christmas.
A sweet vendor fries local traditional sweets amid Christmas decorations in the southern town of Khan Younis. (All Photos: Ruqaya Izzidien)
A Christian scout group meets at Gaza’s Greek Orthodox Church and breaks out into an impromptu dabka dance.
Following the Sunday mass, Orthodox Christians eat a sweetened boiled wheat dessert to commemorate 100 days after the passing of a church member.
The original construction of the Orthodox Church was built in the 6thCentury, in what is now Gaza’s Old City. The church and neighbouring Katb al Welaya Mosque share a wall, and the church bells and mosque minaret stand adjacent.
Biblical images adorn the interior of the Greek Orthodox Church, which celebrates Christmas on January 7.
Children gather in the Orthodox Church of St Porphyrius for Sunday school, which is held on Friday, which is when the weekend falls in many Middle Eastern countries.
This year Israel has given permits to 500 Palestinian Christians in Gaza to visit the West Bank for Christmas. As permission is automatically denied to anyone over 35 or under 16,
the few who are granted permission often choose to say in Gaza,
rather than leave their family behind at Christmas.