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  • An artwork dubbed

    An artwork dubbed "scar of Bethlehem" by street artist Banksy is displayed in the Walled Off hotel, in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank December 22, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 24 December 2019
Opinion

Dubbed an “art hotel,” the premises of the Walled off Hotel are located 500 meters from the Jerusalem checkpoint and face the eight-meter high Israeli wall which stretches for 700 kilometers and was erected in 2003.

British street artist Banksy has brought a somber Christmas spirit to a hotel he founded in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, with a nativity scene evoking the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

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Dubbed "Scar of Bethlehem", the display (pictured here) features a miniature Jesus, Mary and Joseph under a rendition of Israel's concrete West Bank barrier punctured by bullet holes, the largest of which resembles a star over the manger.

It is located in The Walled Off Hotel, which abuts the real barrier, and which the secretive Banksy opened in 2017.

"Christmas (is) known (for) the Star of Bethlehem, that led people to the birthplace of Jesus," said hotel manager Wisam Salsa. "You see there is a scar, there is a hole on the wall that marks the wall and the life in Bethlehem how it is today."

In the center of Bethlehem, which is revered as the birthplace of Jesus, pilgrims and tourists from all over the world were flocking to Manger Square in the build-up to Christmas on Dec. 25.

Many posed for photographs in front of a large crib and Christmas tree erected in front of the Church of the Nativity, eating candy floss and buying red and white hats from a Palestinian dressed as Santa Claus.

Christians make up around 1 percent of the Palestinian population in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

The highest representative of the Catholic Church in the region Pierbattista Pizzaballa will cross one of the gates of the imposing barrier in order to make the traditional pilgrimage from Jerusalem to the Basilica of the Nativity, which protects the cave where, according to Christian tradition, Jesus was born.

Adjacent to the looming gray concrete, Banksy created the hotel in 2017.

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