The Jerusalem municipality handed out complimentary “Christmas trees” to residents, students and volunteers ahead of the holiday.
During the distribution of the live, potted trees, Santa showed up and rode a camel, and mingled with children and others at the Old City’s Jaffa Gate.
One street vendor, captured on video by CBN News, was so moved by a group of Jewish and Arab school children with disabilities that he brought out Santa hats and chocolate for all of them.
According to a statement from the municipality, the city is decorating for Christmas in areas where the holiday is celebrated.
For the Christmas visitors, Israel is facilitating their travel back and forth between Jerusalem and Bethlehem with a free shuttle service from Christmas Eve through the afternoon of Christmas Day.
That takes some coordinating since Jerusalem is under Israel’s authority and Bethlehem is under the control of the Palestinian Authority.
Celebrations in Nazareth, the boyhood home of Jesus will go on but be muted this year in protest against President Trump’s declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
Tens of thousands of visitors are expected to arrive in Israel for the Christmas holidays, the Tourism Ministry said.
“Israel invites the faithful from all religions to pray, worship and visit all the holy sites in Israel, in freedom and security,” said Tourism Minister Yariv Levin.
“This year, we have broken all previous records for incoming tourism and are set to end 2017 with a record 3.5 million tourists, half a million more than the previous record, Levin said in a statement.
According to Tourism Ministry, more than half of all tourists to Israel in 2016 were Christian. Evangelicals comprised 21 percent of that number and 13 percent of the overall total. A 20 percent increase is expected during the Christmas season compared last year at this time.