Gaza / Occupied West Bank 12/24/2023
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children in Gaza are at risk of famine and preventable death from disease as the world’s observant retreat into family and faith to mark the birth of another Palestinian child. In a lightless, treeless Bethlehem, haunting displays capture the specter of a collective grief. Christ lies in the rubble. And just over 70 kilometers away in Gaza, many thousands of Palestinians are entombed in the very same reality.
Through the doorway of a thousand checkpoints, the children of the West Bank avoid the binding of their hands and the breaking of their bones as occupation forces have leapt in tandem with the perpetrators of the Gaza genocide, exacting spasms of violence on their own long descent from humanity. To the immediate west of the place of Christ’s birth, a Palestinian child’s life was stolen by the bullets of the occupation just days ago. Mahmoud Mohammad Zaaoul lay murdered in the village of Husan. In occupied East Jerusalem, faithful Muslims endured beatings and pursuit on horseback by occupation soldiers energized by their greenlit domination of the indigenous population, arbitrarily blocking prayers from being spoken in Al Aqsa Mosque by Palestinian worshippers.
It is Christmas in Palestine.
According to a UNICEF press release dated December 22nd, the latest statistics “warn that acute food insecurity puts all children under five in the Gaza Strip—335,000—at high risk of severe malnutrition and preventable death.” As a traumatized population of genocide-displaced, the people of Gaza have been forced between districts with bombs and drones biting at their heels. Public health and sanitation conditions are non-existent.
Frigid wind and rain have exacerbated illness and flooded small handmade structures that displaced Gazans are existing within as their homes lie in ruins. The World Health Organization has been sounding the alarm about the dangerous prevalence of diarrhea in children; the swelling statistic of instances is nearing 60,000 affected. This is further worsening the already horrific sanitation conditions and rising dehydration with many spending endless days searching for water, albeit contaminated and fueling illness.
Gaza is being ravaged by not only bloody diarrhea, but a host of other illnesses which are tearing through the traumatized population. Hepatitis A, jaundice, meningitis and respiratory infections as dangerous smoke from the burning of found materials to stay warm wafts across densely packed makeshift shelters peppering the gouged landscape.
Pre-existing medical conditions did not cease to be a battle impacted Palestinians were fighting prior to the gears of genocide thrusting towards them through the joint American-Israeli operation. Dialysis and cancer patients, diabetics in need of regular insulin and the means with which to maintain and monitor their blood glucose levels, disabled Palestinians needing around the clock care, stroke and cardiac patients reliant on medication to sustain life- every normal function of their medical support system lies broken among the wreckage.
In the occupied West Bank, flashes of violence strike across heavily targeted communities from Jenin to Nablus. From Tulkarm to al Khalil. The violent raids have been ramping up with the world viewing the horror through both the careful and courageous documentation of Palestinians on the ground as well as through countless antagonistic and cruel tiktok videos shared by occupation forces, mocking and dehumanizing Palestinians as they raid and desecrate a Mosque while using its amplification for prayer to sing Jewish songs. As they sit smoking on the couches of a Palestinian family home laughing and filming bound and blindfolded Palestinians gathered on the ground before them.
Running from the terror of flying rockets, earth shattering explosions and buildings collapsing around them, 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza are among those fighting to survive. Over 180 births are taking place each day in genocide-torn Gaza. They are taking place in the rubble, in packed lobbies of shelters, in makeshift tent structures. The conditions are beyond horrific with only a fraction of hospital beds available from before October 7th across all Gaza’s districts. This says nothing of Palestinians ability to access one of the few medical facilities left in the devastated Gaza Strip.
The situation swells to new heights of crisis as the observant mark the day that Mary, having nowhere to stay in the town, utilized a makeshift crib to lay down her infant as angels sang the birth of the Christ lying in a Bethlehem manger.
Like so many children in Gaza, in today’s Bethlehem, Christ lies in the rubble.