The birth of Christ nearly two thousand years sago was celebrated in his birthplace under tight security this year.
GV Security forces in streets of Bethlehem
CU AND GV Procession gong through Jaffa gate
GV Carols being sung whilst priest gives blessing
Initials C/0058 CL/0104
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Background: The birth of Christ nearly two thousand years sago was celebrated in his birthplace under tight security this year.
Hundreds of Israeli soldiers manned vantage points throughout Bethlehem, and helicopter surveillance and security checks were the order of the day.
A procession of pilgrims wound its way to Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity.
The procession was led by Roman Catholic Patriarch Monsignor Giuseppe Giocomo Beltritti. This year, though, the crowds gathered in the Square were smaller than in years past.
Townspeople said they could not remember such a subdued Christmas. They blamed he world economic crisis and the political and ministry troubles of the Middle East.
The Patriarch conducted midnight Mass to herald in Christmas and to mark the start of the Roman Catholic Holy Year.