JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israeli authorities are bringing Christmas cheer to the Holy Land.
Again this year, the Jewish National Fund distributed Christmas trees to local churches, monasteries, convents, embassies, foreign journalists, and the general public in central and northern Israel.
JNL, the organization responsible for the reforestation of Israel, grows Arizona cedars in northern Israel because they are best suited to Israeli climate and make attractive Christmas trees. The group coordinated their efforts with the Jerusalem Municipality and the Interior Ministry.
"As Christmas approaches, the foresters thin out the crowded woodland and sell the trees to the general public. On the one hand, this prevents illegal felling of the trees and on the other, allows people to enjoy the presence of a festive Christmas tree," JNL officials said in a recent statement.
Meanwhile, Santa visited Jerusalem's Old City, ringing a bell and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.
Also, in his annual holiday greeting, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem said while he supports the changes taking place in the Arab world, he hopes the rights of minorities, including Christians, will be protected.