Santa Claus Is Coming To Gaza, Delivering Presents To Palestinian Refugees

Children in the Gaza Strip witnessed an unusual sighting on Thursday: A man in a baggy red suit, a matching floppy hat and an overgrown white beard stepped gingerly over rubble in the war-torn district of Shujaiyeh. He carried a bulky red sack over his shoulder, full of children's presents. Yes, Santa Claus has come to the Gaza Strip, delivering a bit of cheer to the young residents who have had their neighborhoods ruined by an ongoing war.

According to Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star, Santa Claus is really Sameh Wadi, a 27-year-old Muslim who lives in Shujaiyeh. Wadi told news source Anadolu Agency that he believed the children of Gaza deserved to have a normal Christmas, so he decided to don Santa's famous red suit and walk among the ruins, ringing a bell to signal to the children.

Wadi continued:

The Gaza Strip's children are deprived of the normal, happy life that most children in the rest of the world enjoy. It's a good chance to bring some entertainment to Gaza's children, who feel frustrated and depressed. Children around the world wait for Santa every year. ... But a real Santa Claus for these children would be any prominent world leader willing to visit Gaza and provide its children with the basic needs that they currently lack.

According to figures from the United Nations and Palestine, more than 400 people were injured in the Shujaiyeh over the summer, when Israeli military launched air strikes on the region. Many of those injured were children.

In August, a UNICEF field officer in Gaza said at least 370,000 children in Palestine were in need of psychological counseling following Israel's deadly assault, which killed thousands of Palestinians and displaced thousands more. "Children need to have that sense of security," UNICEF Chief Pernilla Ironside told reporters at the time. "All they want is a sense of safety."

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