PHOTOS: Thousands mark Christmas in West Bank town of Bethlehem

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A Palestinian Scout marching band parade during Christmas celebrations outside the Church of the Nativity, built atop the site where Christians believe Jesus Christ was born, on Christmas Eve, in the West Bank City of Bethlehem, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK (AP) -Thousands of Christian pilgrims on Tuesday flocked to the West Bank town of Bethlehem, celebrating Christmas Eve in the traditional birthplace of Jesus.

Visitors converged on the town’s large Christmas tree in Manger Square, near the spot believed to mark Jesus’ birthplace. Uniformed Palestinian scouts wearing yellow and gold capes paraded past assembled visitors, the sound of drums and bagpipes filling the cool, clear air. Vendors hawked snacks and holiday gifts, adding to the festive atmosphere.

A Palestinian Scout marching band parade during Christmas celebrations outside the Church of the Nativity, built atop the site where Christians believe Jesus Christ was born, on Christmas Eve, in the West Bank City of Bethlehem, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
A Palestinian Scout marching band parades during Christmas celebrations outside the Church of the Nativity, built atop the site where Christians believe Jesus Christ was born, on Christmas Eve, in the West Bank City of Bethlehem, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa arrives to the Church of the Nativity, built atop the site where Christians believe Jesus Christ was born, on Christmas Eve, in the West Bank City of Bethlehem, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Clergymen participate in Christmas celebrations outside the Church of the Nativity, built atop the site where Christians believe Jesus Christ was born, on Christmas Eve, in the West Bank City of Bethlehem, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
A Christian pilgrim from Nigeria enters the Church of the Nativity, built on top of the site where Christians believe Jesus Christ was born, on Christmas Eve in the West Bank City of Bethlehem, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Christian Armenian pray inside the Grotto of the Church of the Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
A worshipper prays inside the Church of the Nativity, built on top of the site where Christians believe Jesus Christ was born, on Christmas Eve, in the West Bank City of Bethlehem, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Christian pilgrims from Nigeria pray inside the Grotto of the Church of the Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Christian pilgrims from Nigeria pray inside the Grotto of the Church of the Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Christian pilgrims pray inside the Grotto of the Church of Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
A worshipper prays inside the Church of the Nativity, built on top of the site where Christians believe Jesus Christ was born, on Christmas Eve, in the West Bank City of Bethlehem, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
A worshipper prays inside the Church of the Nativity, built on top of the site where Christians believe Jesus Christ was born, on Christmas Eve, in the West Bank City of Bethlehem, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
A visitor lights a candle at the Church of the Nativity built on top of the site where Christians believe Jesus Christ was born on Christmas Eve, in the West Bank City of Bethlehem, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

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