Palestinian baby born in Bethlehem with unusual birthmark. (Courtesy: Israel Insider)
A Palestinian baby born in Bethlehem, the town revered by Christians as Jesus’ birthplace, is drawing crowds of thousands curious to get a glimpse at what is at once deemed a “miracle” and the “mark of a beast.”
As the Jerusalem Post first reported, the boy was born 12 days ago in the Aida refugee camp adjacent to the West Bank town.
His cheek bears an unusual birthmark that resembles faded black Arabic letters which spell the first name of the boy’s uncle, Ala Ayyad. The 25-year-old Hamas terrorist was killed in an ambush by Israeli troops in March over his suspected involvement in a November 2002 suicide bombing of a bus that claimed the lives of 12 Israelis.
Interpreting the birthmark as a divine sign, the family named the baby after his uncle.
The baby was born on the 27th day of the holy month of Ramadan, which is revered by Muslims as the night the Koran was revealed to the prophet Mohammad.
“I went to the Imam of the mosque and asked him about the birthmark,” Abu-Imad Ayyad, the infant’s grandfather, told the daily news magazine Israel Insider. “He said it was a gift from God.”
Jerusalem Grand Mufti Ikrimah Sabri called the phenomenon a karama, or miracle.
“He who receives a karama is a chosen one,” Sabri told Israel Insider. “It is a baby with very special status.”
Aysha Ayyad, the boy’s grandmother, interpreted the birthmark as a sign “the soldiers can kill our sons but not our spirit.”
“This supports the idea of becoming a martyr,” the 58-year-old woman told the magazine. Ayyad said her son secretly joined Hamas shortly after he was beaten by Israeli soldiers.
“But we want peace,” she added. “I hope Ala will have a good life.”
An Israeli army security source commented, “It sounds very freaky.”
The New York Post headlined its report of the story “Bethlehem Baby’s Mark of a Beast.”
Since local Muslim clerics announced the birth over loudspeakers and told the tale of the birthmark some 7,000 people have flocked to the four-room house to see it for themselves, according to the family.
Reuters reports local Christians quietly dismissed the baby’s birth.