CHRISTIANS IN BETHLEHEM MARK CHRISTMAS AMID VIOLENCE

by DANIELLA CHESLOW | ASSOCIATED PRESS  |  published on December 24, 2015

BETHLEHEM, West Bank — Christian faithful from around the world descended Thursday on the biblical city of Bethlehem for Christmas Eve celebrations at the traditional birthplace of Jesus, as an outburst of Israeli-Palestinian violence dampened the typically festive mood.

Before the celebrations began, Israeli authorities said three Palestinians involved in attacks against Israelis were killed in violence across the West Bank. Another Palestinian was killed in clashes with Israeli troops, a Palestinian hospital official said.

Bethlehem has been a focal point for clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters during the three month-long wave of violence that has gripped the region. While the annual festivities in the city’s Manger Square were set to go on, other celebrations in the city were cancelled or toned down because of the violence.