There will be no musical festivities. No tree-lighting ceremony. No extravagant decorations that normally bedeck the West Bank city of Bethlehem at Christmas. With the war in the Gaza Strip raging, this is a city in mourning.

In perhaps the most overt display of how Israel’s war in Gaza has dampened Christmas celebrations in the city seen as the birthplace of Jesus, a Lutheran church put up its crèche, but with a sad and symbolic twist. The baby Jesus — wrapped in a keffiyeh, the black-and-white checkered scarf that has become a badge of Palestinian identity — is lying not in a makeshift cradle of hay and wood. Instead, he lies among the rubble of broken bricks, stones and tiles that represent so much of Gaza’s destruction.

"We’ve been glued to our screens, seeing children pulled from under the rubble day after day. We’re broken by these images,” said the Rev. Munther Isaac, the pastor at the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church who created the crèche. "God is under the rubble in Gaza. This is where we find God right now.”