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Palestinian Santas protest in Bethlehem

The Santas were reportedly holding a peaceful protest and distributing Christmas gifts to children at the entrance of the city

Published: Updated:

Palestinian protesters festively dressed as Santa Claus have marched Tuesday in Bethlehem, a day before the beginning of Christmas celebrations in the West Bank city revered as the birthplace of Jesus, official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

The Santas were reportedly holding a peaceful protest and distributing Christmas gifts to children at the entrance of the city.

The protest, which initially started peacefully, ended with clashes between the demonstrators and the Israeli army.

According to B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, “Israeli soldiers and Border Police often fire tear-gas grenades directly at demonstrators with the aim of hitting them, or fire carelessly, without ensuring that demonstrators are not in the direct line of fire, in direct contravention of regulations.”

Earlier this month, the West Bank town of Bethlehem marked the beginning of the holiday season with the lighting of a Christmas tree and fireworks over Manger Square

Around 50,000 Palestinian Christians, including 17,000 Catholics, live among four million Muslims in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and in Gaza.