The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Tuesday, April 30, 2002  

The IDF Allows Some to Leave the Birthplace of Christ

The stand-off between the Israel Defense Force and the Palestinians holed up in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem continues, but progress has been made. According to the Associated Press, 26 Palestinians trapped in the church have been released.

Meanwhile, the month-long siege of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat's offices in Ramallah appears to be within sight. "British and U.S. officials met Palestinian negotiators late Tuesday to discuss procedures for transferring six Palestinians wanted by Israel to a Palestinian prison in Jericho," according to the A.P.

The violence continues, nonetheless. "In Gaza, three Palestinians, including a two-year-old girl, were killed when Israeli tanks opened fire near the Gaza-Egypt border late Tuesday, witnesses and a Palestinian doctor said," A.P. reports tonight. "Israeli military sources said militants set off an explosive and soldiers fired a tank shell, hitting one of the bombers. Exchanges of fire continued as Israeli tanks moved into the Rafah refugee camp, residents said."

Why this had to involve the killing of a toddler was not immediately made clear.

The IDF's assault on Hebron apparently has ended. Israel said IDF forces arrested 150 Palestinians in the village, including 52 on "Israel's wanted list." Why the remaining 98 Palestinians were arrested was, in a phrase we have tired of writing, not immediately clear.

Despite today's evacuations, some 200 people remain inside the Church of the Nativity, revered as the birthplace of Jesus Christ, including Palestinian "gunmen," policemen, and civilians, as well as "Christian clerics, monks, and nuns who said they are staying put to protect the shrine" and whose well-being is apparently of no concern whatsoever to the IDF.

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