Jolly old St. Nick, aka Santa Claus, has been making some news this year: Indonesia issued a fatwa forbidding Muslims to wear Santa hats; Christmas was reportedly banned in Maryland schools because it was deemed “offensive” to Muslims, while a school district in Oregon banned Santa Claus and religious-themed decorations in classrooms; there are no more Christmas school celebrations in Turkey, either, following a ban, despite its being “the homeland of the real Santa Claus”; and France banned Santa from its primary schools for being too offensively “religious.”
Santa Claus was not banned in Palestinian Authority-governed Bethlehem. Santa Clauses (yes, plural) were seen running through the streets of the birthplace of Jesus. But these Santas were not bringing joy, smiles, peace and goodwill to children; they were Palestinians dressed up as Santa, throwing rocks at IDF soldiers and violently trying to force their way through to Muslim holy sites without permits, to “pray.”
The Santas were tear-gassed by Israeli troops. Palestinians previously threatened to “smash” Temple Mount Security cameras; that area has been targeted with “Palestinian terrorism and violence, including stabbing, shooting and vehicular ramming attacks.” From bans to jihadi rock-throwing and brawls; pity what “Father Christmas” has been forcibly reduced to.
“‘Santa stands with Palestinians!’ Red-suited protesters clash with Israeli police (VIDEOS),” RT, December 25, 2016:
Wearing symbolic red suits and white beards, with some completing their outfits with traditional Palestinian keffiyehs and even gas masks, the protesters marched towards a checkpoint connecting Bethlehem to Jerusalem.
Calling for the free movement of people between the two cities, activists carried signs which read “Santa Claus stands with the Palestinian people” and “Jesus came with a message of peace, his city suffers oppression.”
The procession of roughly one hundred activists was halted on Friday by Israeli troops in front of Checkpoint 300, which serves as one of the main transit gates between occupied West Bank cities.
Israeli soldiers fired tear gas, pepper spray and stun grenades at Palestinians who allegedly attacked IDF lines with rocks.
A number of people were injured, including journalists, after the activists were met by force, according to reports. Several people suffered smoke inhalation injuries during the clashes. At least five journalists covering the event, were also injured, Ma’an reports.
Israel defended its actions, saying that Palestinians pelted stones at IDF lines, which forces the soldiers to respond.
“15 men … threw rocks at Israeli soldiers,” an Israeli border police spokesperson told Ma’an, adding that “some of them were dressed as Santa Claus and tried to cross the checkpoint between Bethlehem and Jerusalem.” The spokesperson added that two Israeli soldiers suffered light injuries in the clashes….