Thousands of people gathered outside Bethlehem's Church of Nativity on Saturday for the traditional lighting of a giant Christmas tree and colourful fireworks marking the beginning of the festive season.
Bethlehem revered as the birthplace of Jesus attracts thousands of tourists and Christian pilgrims in the festive Christmas time and the city authorities make the lighting of the tree into one of the most memorable celebrations of the year.
Earlier on Saturday Bethlehem welcomed the Custodian of the Holy Land on his arrival in Bethlehem to mark the beginning of the festive season of Advent, when millions of Christians around the world start their preparations for Christmas.
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