Dozens of residents of Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem in the West Bank, gathered on Saturday evening
in front of the Municipality building, in the center of
the town, to light up the Christmas tree.


The celebration was organized by the Beit Sahour municipality, who also decorated a tree in order to announce the beginning of the Christmas celebration.  Scout groups marched from the entrance to the town to the municipality building, leading a crowd of local residents.  After speeches by the Mayor, Mr. Hanni Al Hayak,  and other distinguished guests, the tree was lit up to the sound of a cheering crowd and fireworks.  Church groups played Christmas songs for the crowd.

The mainly Christian town joined together for today's celebration despite the fact that the town is in the midst of a severe financial crisis, along with the rest of Palestine.  In Beit Sahour, the main source of income is from Christian tourism, a sector that has been severely affected by the Israeli occupation, Wall construction around Bethlehem, and international siege.  There is also fear of civil unrest in the wave of violence that has been growing in the West Bank and the Gaza strip.