Fadi Arouri, Pool, AP Photo/
BETHLEHEM, West Bank — A record number of pilgrims from around the world have gathered in Bethlehem on Christmas Day in the largest celebration this West Bank town has seen in a decade.
Pilgrims were assembling around the Church of the Nativity, built on the site where tradition holds Jesus was born, for prayers Saturday morning.
The Israeli military put the number of pilgrims this year at over 100,000, compared to about 50,000 last year.
Warm weather, a virtual halt in Israeli-Palestinian violence and an economic revival in the West Bank have added to the holiday cheer.
Only one-third of Bethlehem's 50,000 residents are Christian, down from about 75 percent in the 1950s. The rest are Muslims.
- As Ferguson verdict is read, protesters in...
- Grand jury won't indict Ferguson cop in shooting
- Ferguson businesses torched in overnight...
- In New Zealand, feud over fate of 1902 corpse...
- Latinos are 'very optimistic' about America's...
- Why Salt Lake City is one of the best cities...
- At least 17 killed in Egypt by building collapse
- Thanksgiving trumps Black Friday for deals
- As Ferguson verdict is read, protesters... 63
- Grand jury won't indict Ferguson cop in... 30
- Obama: Americans want 'new car smell'... 29
- Fact check: Obama's claims on illegal... 18
- Winners and losers under Obama's... 18
- Under pressure, Hagel steps down as... 15
- Boehner: 'We will not stand idle' on... 14
- Obama immigration plan good, not great... 13