by Megan O’Toole
Gaza City – Christmas is hidden upstairs at the Toy Toy shop in the core of Gaza City.
Visitors entering the small, unassuming store must ascend a side staircase before stumbling upon a room full of Christmas goods – rows of red and green candles, shelves adorned with grinning elf dolls, a floor covered in shiny green wrapping paper.
A lone employee, 24-year-old Hussam Abu Shaban, wraps snow-white garlands around a plastic tree and jokingly refers to himself as Gaza’s Santa.
But in a city that has barely started to recover from a crushing summer war, this is no ordinary Christmas.
Indeed, for many Christian residents of the besieged Gaza Strip, there is little to celebrate this holiday season.