Gaza plight mars Christmas tree lighting in Ramallah
Scores of Palestinians converged onto central Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on Sunday to be part of the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in the city Anadolu Agency reported
All over the city, the streets were decorated, while residents - both Muslims and Christians - put on their best clothes in preparation for the annual event.
However, deteriorating conditions in the Gaza Strip seemed to take the pleasure out of the event.
"I arrived from my village, Aboud, northern Ramallah, to watch the lights and ornaments of the Christmas tree," Grace Abdo, a Christian Palestinian female, told The Anadolu Agency as she and others took part in the event.
"Unfortunately, we celebrate Christmas this year, while our brothers and sisters in Gaza live without shelter or joy because of the Israeli brutal war against them," she added.
She and other Palestinians were keen to be part of the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony on this chilly night.
Behind Grace, some revelers were rubbing their hands together to feel warm. Others brought their children who wore red Santa Claus uniforms with them to the ceremony.
The Christmas tree - a 12-meter high object that buzzed with life and was decorated with 1,400 red balls and 2,500 lights - was placed on Yasser Arafat Square in central Ramallah.
The square is named after the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, the man who led the Palestine Liberation Organization for more than three decades.
Arafat died at a French hospital in 2004, even as he continues to live in the minds of the Palestinians as a symbol of the Palestinian struggle for liberty, dignity and statehood.
"My family and I insisted to come here despite the cold weather," Mohammad al-Khal, another ceremony participant, said.
"I cannot let such an occasion go without sharing the Christmas joy with Christian brothers and sisters," he added.
The tree was lit at 16:00 GMT and is expected to continue lighting until January 12.
A few kilometers away from where this ceremony was being held, other Palestinians in the Gaza Strip continued to reel under the effects of Israel's 51-day offensive on the coastal Palestinian territory.
The extent of the damage left behind by the war, which came to an end on August 26, is just untold.
Thousands of homes were either totally or partially ruined, Gaza's infrastructure was left in a deplorable condition, and the territory's future does not seem to be promising in the lack of international support.
More than 2,160 Palestinians were killed by Israeli attacks on Gaza, while more than 11,000 others injured.
These losses seem to be leaving an indelible effect in the minds of every resident of Gaza, even as the world prepares to receive a new year.