In a bizarre scene just before Christmas, angry Muslims gave new meaning to the expression “Bad Santa” by launching a full-blown assault on Israeli soldiers near the separation wall in the West Bank last week, throwing rocks and fire bombs while dressed as St. Nick.

The Palestinians ran for cover after security forces fired tear gas canisters to break up the demonstrations.

The violence preceded another attack on troops Thursday when four Palestinians were killed in the West Bank as Bethlehem filled with tourists celebrating the birth of Christ. Three killed were said to be involved in attacks on Israeli security forces. A fourth individual died during an altercation with troops.

A Palestinian protester dressed as Santa squares off with a member of Israel's security forces near Bethlehem's separation wall prior to Christmas

A Palestinian protester dressed as Santa squares off with a member of Israel’s security forces near Bethlehem’s separation wall prior to Christmas.

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“We’re in Bethlehem celebrating Christmas, celebrating the birthday of our lord Jesus Christ. This is the birthplace of the king of peace so what we want is peace,” said Rula Maayah, the Palestinian Tourism Minister on Thursday, Fox News reported.

Annual festivities in the city’s Manger Square were not postponed or canceled due to the violence, the network reported.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said one incident involved a stabbing of two security guards in the Ariel settlement, which wounded them “moderately.” A second attack involved a motorist attacking Israeli troops.

A fourth Palestinian died in the Qalandiya refugee camp after security forces engaged a “violent mob” throwing firebombs. The man was hit in the head by live fire.

“This is the first year in more than 10 years, possibly 15 according to one of our engineers, that Palestinian officials denied our crew permits to get across the border into the West Bank an Bethlehem. That’s an example of the ongoing political tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians,” Fox News’ John Huddy said Thursday.

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Attacks by Palestinians have killed 20 Israelis and an American student over the past three months, the network reported. Israeli forces killed 85 defending themselves during attacks. Troops killed 39 others during altercations.

 

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