IF Mary and Joseph were travelling in the occupied West Bank today, the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem would mean passing through Israeli checkpoints, illegal settlements, and the separation wall – with no guarantee they would make it alive. This is what it means to be Palestinian in occupied Palestine.

I was born and raised in occupied East Jerusalem. As part of my education, I came to the UK to study. On my return to occupied Palestine, I was refused entry and joined the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who have been driven from their homes since 1948 when Israel was created.

My wife is from Gaza and during the Israeli war on the region in 2014, she lost 14 members of her family – 10 of whom were children under the age of 12. Since the start of the recent conflict, her remaining family have been living in a school yard in Khan Younis, currently under Israeli strikes. They have no roof over their heads and no access to food or water.

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Palestinians have endured decades of Israel's illegal occupation and the loss of homes, livelihood, and rights – all while the world has looked on. Today is no different, even as whole communities are wiped out by heavy bombardments and Gaza is reduced to rubble.

The people of Gaza are suffering. The healthcare system and humanitarian aid operations have collapsed in large parts of Gaza amid Israel’s blockade, intense airstrikes, and fighting. Little or no shelter, lack of sanitation, food, water, medicine, and fuel – as the tiny enclave continues to be pounded by bombs – is resulting in one of the biggest humanitarian crises the world has ever seen.

The National: Israeli soldiers move into a neighbourhood in Gaza City (AP Photo/Moti Milrod, Haaretz)

Elsewhere, things are no better. Israeli settler violence against Palestinians and the imprisonment of Palestinian men, women and children is also on the rise. In the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, where Hamas are not in control, Israel has detained more than 4000 Palestinians since the start of the recent conflict. The majority of the people are held in “administrative detention”, where they are detained without charge and their detention can be renewed every six months.

Like the thousands of Palestinians already in Israeli prisons, no one knows when or if they will be released – or even if they will live.

The besieged people of Palestine have been left at the mercy of the international community for their survival. They are trapped in limbo to mourn their dead and injured. Just like my family and I have had to during past conflicts.

The only difference is that I have never seen ordinary people mobilising in their calls for a ceasefire and an end to Israel’s illegal occupation on this scale.

As people across the globe continue to watch in horror at what Palestinians are going through, peaceful protests on the streets worldwide have grown week on week to be some of the biggest in history.

The National: People take part in the National March for Palestine (Lucy North/PA)

In Israeli-occupied Bethlehem, Glasgow’s twinned city since 2007, in a show of solidarity with the people of Gaza, Christian leaders have announced they will cancel festive celebrations this year. It is the first time in history. They have also changed this year’s nativity scene to depict the reality of Palestinians in Gaza, laying baby Jesus wrapped in a Palestinian scarf in the rubble rather than in a manger of hay.

Citing the reason for the move, Munther Issac, a lutheran pastor in Bethlehem, said that “while the world is celebrating Christmas in festive ways, in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, this is what Christmas looks like”.

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The recent conflict in Jesus’ birthplace continues to draw a dark shadow on the festive period. Ceasefire motions at the UN are tabled – and vetoed repeatedly. And as the media’s attention shifts, the staggering number of Palestinians dying by the hour become just numbers. A daily stocktake.

As Palestinians, we are not calling for the world to cancel Christmas. We are calling for an end to business-as-usual and for solidarity with Palestinians as they go through what can only be described as hell on Earth.

For the sake of humanity and peace, we need to be able to recognise that international law also applies to Palestinians. Like everyone, we too have a right to exist – free of oppression and fear.

Christmas is a time for hope, and hope is what we Palestinians hold onto.