10-meter-high Christmas tree lit in Bethlehem's Manger Square

A 10-meter-high (32-feet-high) Christmas tree has been lit in Manger Square. The ceremony kicked off the Christmas season in Jesus' traditional birthplace. About 500 visitors counted down and cheering Monday as red and yellow lights on the cypress lit up. The tree is the centerpiece of elaborate decorations put up around town in anticipation of a booming holiday season. Mayor Victor Batarseh wished visitors a holiday of love, peace, harmony and forgiveness, but also criticized the Israeli occupation and the separation barrier Israel is building in the West Bank. He said he hopes that "the star that led the three wise men to Bethlehem will lead the great powers and brighten their way toward genuine peace."