A Palestinian marching band parades during a Christmas procession at Manger Square in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority security forces bolstered their presence in Bethlehem on Friday, amid concern over possible attacks targeting pilgrims and Palestinian Christians by Islamic State supporters during the Christmas holiday.
According to Palestinian news agency Ma'an, the PA security force had been warned of the intention by radical Salafi activists of disturbing the order.
Palestinian sources say they fear a shooting or bomb attack against foreigners visiting holy Christian sites in the West Bank city, according to Ma'an.
In recent days, Palestinian forces have reportedly arrested and place in administrative detention 16 extremist Muslim militants.
Hundreds of worshipers and tourists from around the world arrived early on Friday to the Nativity Church in Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas morning mass at the birthplace of Jesus.
The mass at the West Bank church was led by Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fuad Twal, who also led midnight mass attended by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and PA Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah.
This year's Christmas festivities are taking place as the recent wave of violence that started more than two months ago is still going on in the West Bank, Israel and Jerusalem.
Reuters and Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.
sign up to our newsletter