Source: Associated Press
By ISABEL DEBRE
BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) — Pilgrims from around the world flocked to Bethlehem on Monday for what was believed to be the biblical West Bank city’s largest Christmas celebrations in years.
Hundreds of locals and foreign visitors milled in Manger Square as bagpipe-playing Palestinian Scouts paraded past a giant Christmas tree. Crowds flooded the Church of the Nativity, venerated as the traditional site of Jesus’s birth, and waited to descend into the ancient grotto.
Palestinian Tourism Minister Rula Maaya said all Bethlehem hotels were fully booked, and the city was preparing to host an “astounding” 10,000 tourists overnight.