Special report: Palestine-Israel
GAZA, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian Christians
living in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip will not celebrate Christmas this year and
do the midnight Christmas mass, Gaza Latin Church pastor Manuel Musalam said on
Musalam said in a statement sent to reporters in Gaza
that he made the decision to protest a tight Israeli blockade imposed on the
Gaza Strip, and Israeli threats to invade the coastal enclave.
Palestinian Amid Saadeh decorates a
Christmas tree at a church in the West Bank city of Nablus December 23,
impoverished Gaza Strip is home to around 4,000 Christians, most of whom belong
to the Greek Orthodox Church, while the rest follow the Latin Church Christmas
calendar, which falls on Dec. 24.
Christian sources in Gaza said 800 Christians applied
to the Israeli side to obtain a permission to reach the holy city of Bethlehem
in the West Bank to attend the Christmas mass prayers midnight.
The Jewish state has only handed out 280 permissions
to attend the Christmas Mass prayers in Bethlehem, the sources said, adding that
the rest were denied.
"Annulling the Christmas mass prayers at midnight in
Gaza came also to protest the Israeli decision not to give permission to Gaza
Christians to go to Bethlehem," said Musalam.
He called on all Christians to gather at the Holy
Family School, run by his church, to attend a silent mass, instead of praying at
Israel recently tightened a crippling embargo it
imposed on Gaza last year in an attempt to pressure Palestinian militants into
giving up their rocket fire.
Israel has been closing Gaza border crossing points
after a six-month truce brokered by Egypt between Israel and Gaza militant
groups ended on Dec. 19.
Violence mounted on Wednesday as Hamas militants
fired over than 60 rockets and mortar shells at Israeli cities and communities
in Gaza vicinity in response to the death of three militants.
Three Hamas militants were killed on Tuesday night
near northern Gaza-Israeli border, and two other Hamas militants were killed in
a mysterious explosion in southern Gaza Strip.
Ship protesting Gaza blockage to sail from Lebanon in Jan.
BEIRUT, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) -- A European-flagged ship carrying Lebanese activists, journalists and supplies is to sail from southern Lebanon to the besieged Gaza Strip early next year, Naharnet website reported Wednesday.
The ship carrying power generators and food will sail from southern Lebanon on Jan. 3 to Cyprus before heading to Gaza to defy the Israeli blockade, the organizers were quoted as saying. Full story
Hamas fires military-grade rockets
GAZA, Dec. 24
(Xinhua) -- Gaza ruler Hamas fired longer-range rockets into Israel on Wednesday
amid continuous makeshift rockets attacks, escalating violence around the
besieged Gaza Strip.
Hamas confirmed that its militants have fired Grads
(military-grade rockets) from northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning in
response to the killing of five of its militants. Full story
Palestinians fire rockets into
Dec. 24 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday resumed
attacks on Israeli border communities with rockets and mortar shells following
the death of five Hamas fighters.
In response to the attacks, Israel canceled a brief
opening of cargo crossings which was intended to allow humanitarian aid into the
sealed-off enclave. Full story