Arab Christians in the Israeli port city of Jaffa flocked to the annual Christmas tree lighting celebration on Monday (December 1) heralding the start of the holiday season in the holy land.
Men dressed up as Santa Claus met children and sang Christmas carols in a festive gathering at the port city, adjacent to Tel Aviv.
Orthodox leaders addressed the crowd with messages of peace and unity among the three religions in the holy land.
"In this opportunity we see the unity between Jews, Muslims and Christians," one religious leader told the audience.
"This is the best example for all the citizens of Israel to see how people can do things that we can really take people from all the natures, Jews, Muslims and put them together. This is the tree. I wish that this can bring peace to our land, to Israel, to Christians, Muslims and Jews," said George Mansour, head of the Orthodox scouts in Jaffa.
Men, women and children enjoyed street entertainment, with Santa Claus pulling a sled and people in costumes singing Christmas carols. Fireworks then lit up the sky as the crowd counted down to the lighting of the tree, marking the start of the holiday season.sign up to our newsletter