A man tends to a Palestinian protester, dressed as Santa Claus, after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli troops during clashes in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, December 23, 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.
This is not the first year that Santas have clashed with the IDF around the the Christmas period in the West Bank. Similar scuffles erupted both in 2015 and 2014.
(Source / 26.12.2016)