12/24/2014 10:32 EST | Updated 02/23/2015 05:59 EST

Bethlehem Christmas festivities underway amid heightened tension

Thousands of Christian pilgrims are gathering in Manger Square in the West Bank town of Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas Eve amid heightened tensions in the area, CBC's Jeff Semple reports.

Marching bands were part of the festivities outside the Church of the Nativity, built atop the traditional birthplace of Jesus. 

Watch Semple's report above for more on the celebrations.