Dec. 24 - Fuad Twal, Jerusalem's Latin Patriarch, leaves Jerusalem for the West Bank town of Bethlehem to lead Christmas festivities. Sunita Rappai reports.
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The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fuad Twal, prepares to leave Jerusalem's Old City for Bethlehem - the birthplace of Jesus Christ.
Twal is expected to cross the Bethlehem checkpoint, driving through the Israeli-build separation barrier, on route to the Church of the Nativity, where he will lead the annual midnight mass.
In Bethlehem's Manger Square, thousands of worshippers eagerly await his arrival with a number of children's bands marking the occasion.
Hundreds of Palestinian security men are also positioned in and around the town, ahead of the Patriarch's arrival and an anticipated influx of tourists.
For many tourists, the town is particularly special.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) TOURIST FROM GERMANY, CHRISTINE, SAYING:
"It's really special, I mean, it's where the story began. And for me it's also kind of special for my family because my parents were here and my grandmother was here so it's special to be here."
Bethlehem has experienced relative calm and a boom in tourism in the past three years following years of violence.
Sunita Rappai, Reuters
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