Filing past a 16-metre (52-ft) Christmas tree in Manger Square, visitors from all over the world made a Christmas Eve pilgrimage to Bethlehem, the town revered as the birthplace of Jesus.
The Palestinian town in the Israeli-occupied West Bank is enjoying its busiest Christmas in years, with hotels nearly fully booked and the security situation relatively calm.
Lines of pilgrims squeezed through a narrow sandstone entrance to the Church of the Nativity to visit the grotto where Christian faithful believe Jesus was born.
“This place is wonderful. I feel like the real Christmas (is celebrated) here,” said Joseph Ahlan, a pilgrim from Malaysia.
Maria Moeva, a visitor from Bulgaria, said she could feel “all the passion of the people who are here to celebrate the birth of Christ”.
HAPPENING NOW: Hundreds of people are currently gathering from all over the world on #ChristmasEve in #Bethlehem, the Palestinian town in the Israeli-occupied West Bank revered as the birthplace of #Jesus. https://t.co/qFERzFcjgZ pic.twitter.com/ZddKGRb4kM— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) December 24, 2018
People attend Christmas celebrations at Manger Square outside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. (Reuters)