News and Document archive source
copyrighted material disclaimer at bottom of page

NewsMinewar-on-terrorisraelhostilities2008 — Viewing Item

Palestinians stop fighting priests in Bethlehem { November 2007 }

Original Source Link: (May no longer be active)

Priests scuffle at Bethlehem birthplace of Jesus
First Published 2007-12-29
Last Updated 2007-12-29 11:38:01

Unarmed Palestinian policemen separate 50 Greek Orthodox, 30 Armenians from fight inside Church of Nativity.

BETHLEHEM, West Bank - Robed Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests went at each other with brooms and stones inside the Church of the Nativity on Thursday as long-standing rivalries erupted in violence during holiday cleaning.

The basilica, built over the grotto in Bethlehem where Christians believe Jesus was born, is administered jointly by Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic authorities. Any perceived encroachment on one group's turf can set off vicious feuds.

On Thursday, dozens of priests and cleaners came to the fortress-like church to scrub and sweep the floors, walls and rafters ahead of the Armenian and Orthodox Christmas, celebrated in the first week of January. Thousands of tourists visited the church this week for Christmas celebrations.

But the cleanup turned ugly after some of the Orthodox faithful stepped inside the Armenian church's section, touching off a scuffle between about 50 Greek Orthodox and 30 Armenians.

Seven people, some with blood running from their faces, were wounded.

For a quarter of an hour bearded and robed priests laid into each other with fists, brooms and iron rods while the photographers who had come to take pictures of the annual cleaning ceremony recorded the whole event.

A dozen unarmed Palestinian policemen were sent in and they quickly formed a human cordon to separate the two sides, but two of them were also injured in the unholy melee.

"As usual the cleaning of the church after Christmas is a cause of problems," Bethlehem Mayor Victor Batarseh said, adding that he has offered to help ease tensions.

"For the two years that I have been here everything went more or less calmly," he said. "It's all finished now."

The Church of the Nativity, like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, is shared by various branches of Christianity, each of which controls and jealously guards a part of the holy site.

The Church of the Nativity is built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was born in a stable more than 2,000 years ago after Mary and Joseph were turned away by an inn.

Gazan mother and 4 children killed { April 29 2008 }
Israel attack kills reuters cameraman { March 2008 }
Israel rehearsed bombing attack on iran { June 20 2008 }
Israeli settlers attacked palestinian family { June 13 2008 }
Number of suicide attacks drop sharply { May 2 2008 }
Palestinians stop fighting priests in Bethlehem { November 2007 }

Files Listed: 6


CIA FOIA Archive

National Security
Support one-state solution for Israel and Palestine Tea Party bumper stickers JFK for Dummies, The Assassination made simple