Thousands mark Christmas in West Bank town of Bethlehem

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MOHAMMAD DARAGHMEH and PATTY NIEBERG Associated Press BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) — Thousands of Christian pilgrims on Tuesday flocked to the West Bank town of Bethlehem, celebrating Christmas Eve in the traditional birthplace of Jesus. Visitors converged on the town's large Christmas tree in Manger Square, near the spot believed to mark Jesus' birthplace. Uniformed Palestinian scouts wearing yellow and gold capes paraded past assembled visitors, the sound of drums and bagpipes filling the cool, clear air. Vendors hawked snacks and holiday gifts, adding to the festive atmosphere. Roger Hoagland, a Christian educator and missionary from Louisville, Kentucky, said he had come to lead a Baptist choir for a fourth time and described his visit as the experience of a lifetime. "We love thi
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