Al-Jazeerah TV reported this morning that the
Church of Nativity (birthplace of Christ), the Syrian Orthodox Church, and
the Church of Santa Maria (I think this is the Melkite -- Rum Catholic --
Church) are under siege in Bethlehem by
Israeli forces. The Churches have become a haven for wounded Palestinian
civilians and gunmen. Patriarch Al-Sabbah of the Roman Catholic Church said that
all gunmen gave up their weapons upon entering Churches. Israel claims that
gun men are firing weapons from within the Church of Nativity. Church
authorities deny this.
The Syrian Orthodox Church is less than 1/4 mile
from the Church of Nativity. It is surrounded by a complex of houses owned by
the church and inhabited by faithful from that church who are also under siege.
The Syrian Orthodox Church in Bethlehem numbers about 300 families most of whom
live within a walking distance from the Church.
George A. Kiraz,
M.St. (Oxon), M.Phil., Ph.D. (Cantab)
Piscataway, NJ 08854