BETHLEHEM, West Bank – Palestinian demonstrators, many dressed as Santa Claus, protested on Saturday in front of the wall separating Jerusalem from Bethlehem, the West Bank city known as the birthplace of Jesus Christ.
Israeli security forces fired tear gas at the protesters, who held Palestinian flags and signs in English saying “All we want for Christmas is Jerusalem and Justice,” as documented by an epa photographer.
Protests have taken place on a near-daily basis across the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip following US President Donald Trump’s decision this month to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Several of the Saturday’s protesters donned the iconic red Santa suit and cap, and were seen using the costume’s beard to cover their mouth and nose against the clouds of tear gas.
Bethlehem is accepted by Christians as the city where Jesus was born, but this Christmas season has been marred by protests and discontent among Palestinians over the US decision on Jerusalem.
Palestinians see East Jerusalem, which was seized by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War, as the capital of their future state.
No nation has moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and the 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians mandated that the city’s final status be settled by negotiations.
Bethlehem is separated from Jerusalem by an eight-meter-tall (26 feet) concrete wall.