Skip to comments.Stench Fills Jesus' Birthplace After Siege: PALIS TURN CHURCH INTO TRUCK STOP RESTROOM
Posted on 05/10/2002 1:01:06 PM PDT by Cinnamon Girl
BETHLEHEM, West Bank (Reuters) - The overwhelming stench of urine was the first thing to hit visitors who entered the shrine in Bethlehem revered as the birthplace of Jesus.
The standoff between Palestinian militants and the Israeli army at the Church of the Nativity, which came to an end on Friday after nearly 40 days and nights of high drama, had left one of Christianity's holiest places in a shocking mess.
Garbage bags, lemon peels, gas canisters, petrol cans and electric hotplates were scattered throughout the church off Manger Square. A Reuters correspondent saw altars, the sacred focus of Christian worship, covered with food scraps.
"It's not a church any more, it's a place filled with beds and trash," said Sandy Shahin, a local teenager who rushed into the church minutes after the end of the siege on Friday.
"The smell is too bad. The floor is too bad. I'm filled with fear," Shahin, a Roman Catholic, said between sobs.
It seemed almost a small miracle that the Grotto of the Nativity, where a silver star installed by the Catholics in 1717 is set in white marble over the exact spot where Christians believe Jesus was born, was immaculate.
A Reuters correspondent saw dusty mattresses, flak jackets and helmets, left behind by the Palestinian militants holed up in the church and scattered across the floor.
Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian denominations share the fourth-century shrine, where areas of worship appeared to have escaped major damage in the standoff that included exchanges of gunfire between Israeli troops and the gunmen.
But the second floor of the Franciscan order's parish building in the complex looked like a war zone. Walls were pockmarked by bullet holes and scarred by smoke stains.
"I couldn't imagine something like this," said Manal Deik, a local banker, standing next to a bullet-riddled church wall which was also marked with graffiti scrawled in Arabic.
"We will repair it because the damage is not outside, it's inside and we can do something about that," said the 25-year-old Catholic.
Greek Orthodox priest Father Kariton, standing in the basilica near a pile of discarded gasmasks, added: "The most important things are okay, but the museum is a little damaged."
Soon after the militants left, priests from the often bickering denominations argued over whether to allow Israeli army bomb disposal experts in to make sure no explosives were left behind. The clergymen decided in favor of a sweep.
"We have found 40 explosive devices and five rifles hidden there and the IDF is dismantling them now," an army spokeswoman said.
Earlier, 13 men on Israel's most-wanted list left the church and were quickly flown on a British aircraft to Cyprus, the first stop in an exile abroad which will take them to third countries under a European Union-brokered deal.
Twenty-six others considered less serious offenders by Israel were expelled from the West Bank and taken to Gaza.
Some 200 people -- Palestinian militants, police, civilians, priests and nuns took refuge in the sanctuary to evade Israeli troops and tanks that swept into Bethlehem on April 2 in a West Bank offensive triggered by suicide bombings.
Outside the church on Friday, crowds of Palestinians cheered after Israeli armored personnel carriers pulled out of Manger Square. Church bells rang and cries of "Allahu Akbar," or "God is Greater" rang out from the loudspeakers of mosques.
Some of the 85 civilians, who returned to normal life in Bethlehem after undergoing an Israeli security check in a nearby army compound, were overjoyed at the prospect of simply taking a shower and eating a full meal for the first time in weeks.
After hugging and kissing emotional relatives who greeted them at Beit Jala Hospital near Bethlehem, the men said they asked themselves difficult questions during the standoff -- such as when Israeli snipers would fire next or food would run out.
"The Israelis had this tower with a remote control electronic device that fired on us whenever we were exposed. When we went outside we had to run away from it," said Naji Abu Obeid, a 19-year-old Palestinian policeman.
"We each had a safe spot in the church where we would hide such as behind columns," added Obeid, who said he used his AK-47 assault rifle to defend himself and others.
Israel, which engaged in lengthy negotiations with the Vatican and other interested parties over the church, strenuously denied firing into the shrine and said it did all it could to avoid damaging the Church of the Nativity.
Two Palestinian men were killed by gunfire in the church compound last month and another was later wounded.
NO STRANGER TO CONFLICT
A lemon tree stood in the Franciscan compound, its branches bare after those who had been holed up inside the shrine ate its leaves.
The church is no stranger to conflict. Samaritans destroyed much of the original church during a revolt in 529. Christian Crusader and Muslim armies fought over it for many years.
The church was rebuilt during the reign of the Roman Emperor Justinian in about 530 AD. Crusaders redecorated it and over the centuries it has been renovated and expanded with the addition of other chapels and monasteries around it.
Gee... what a shock.
You know that the AP would be having a total fit if it were a mosque, front page of the New York and LA Slimes.
Hm. Probably not, but I imagine the Israelis will not work too hard to dispel the idea that they have fielded "electronic snipers."
The desecration of Jesus' birthplace is a harbinger of what they will soon inflict on the wider Christian church.
Just as revealing was the reaction from the European media. In the American press, you read things like: "An observer to the bomb-blast scene described a dead young girl, perhaps 10 or 12, lying on the ground with her eyes open, looking as if she was surprised." For Europe, on the other hand, the main significance of this development was that it was "unhelpful" to the "peace process". Before I'm accused of being more upset about dead Jewish than dead Muslim kids, let me say that I take people at their own estimation: in the Palestinian Authority schools, they teach their children about the glories of martyrdom; indeed, the careers guidance counsellor appears to have little information on alternative employment prospects; at social events, the moppets are dressed up as junior jihadi, with toy detonators and play bombs. It's not that I place less value on Palestinian lives, but that Chairman Arafat and his chums in Hamas do. So does Saddam Hussein, whose government (the subject of an admiring article in this week's Spectator) gives $25,000 to the family of each Palestinian suicide bomber. So does the Arab League, which at last year's summit passed a resolution hailing the "spirit of sacrifice" of the Palestinian "martyrs" and thus licensed Wednesday's massacre. As for the "peace process", those Europeans who, just a few months ago, were urging the Americans to cease operations for Ramadan evidently feel no compunction to demand from Chairman Arafat and his dark subsidiaries any similar "bombing pause" for Passover.
In the days after September 11, we were told that Muslims had great respect for their fellow "people of the book" - ie, Jews and Christians. This ought to be so: after all, the dramatis personae of the Koran include Abraham, Moses, David, John the Baptist, Jesus and the Virgin Mary. It's one thing to believe that the Israelis are occupiers and oppressors and that the Zionist state should not exist. But no Muslim with any understanding of his shared heritage could in good conscience blow up a Passover Seder. It marks a new low in the Palestinians' descent into nihilism - though, as usual, the silence of the imams is deafening. As for the nonchalance of the Europeans, that too should not surprise us: in my experience, the Continent's Christians, practising and nominal, find the ceremonies of Jewish life faintly creepy, notwithstanding that these were also the rituals by which their own Saviour lived.
But this year, when the Christians' solar calendar and the Jews' lunar calendar have coincided and Easter and Passover fall together, it's a safe bet that George W Bush will make the connection. The first time I ever heard him speak, he spoke openly about his faith and about Christ in a way that would be unimaginable for a British politician. He will know all the details - "the baby tried to crawl away, but it died, too".......................
I thought not...
Before I'm accused of being more upset about dead Jewish than dead Muslim kids, let me say that I take people at their own estimation: in the Palestinian Authority schools, they teach their children about the glories of martyrdom; indeed, the careers guidance counsellor appears to have little information on alternative employment prospects; at social events, the moppets are dressed up as junior jihadi, with toy detonators and play bombs.
Which was trashed worse?
A) The Church of the Nativity after the Islamofacist invasion; or
B) The White House after the Clinton invasion.
Something to ponder.
Don't know if anyone is interested but I visited Israel about 5 years ago and this very church. The site of the 'traditional' spot known as Jesus' birthsite~ as no one really knows this for certain~ is under the main church's floor. You have to walk through the spacious room of the church and then you find a small door that you have to duck your head to go through and then go down some steps which takes you into a very small room. There are burn marks all over the walls of this room as at time(s) people have tried to burn this room (of stone) down. Catholics have put up all kinds of hanging lamps and cloths in this room. For what it's worth....
You summed it up perfectly. There are no police around here protecting churches or synagogues, but an Ohio State Patrol car sits on I-75 next to the Islamic Center north of Cincinnati to make sure no one slows down (or stops).
Gee, what did you expect when the Israelis shut off the water five weeks earlier? No water, no flush, therefore the stench.
This implies that Palis are reasonable. They're not. They're bloodthirsty, facist savages.
I'm certain that, already, some Muslims are considering this an Islamic holy site.....'Where a small band of Allah's Faithful held off the hordes of blood drinking jews'.
I wonder how long it will be before they lay claim to the church.
Remember the photo of the four IDF soldiers taking a leak on the outside wall of a Mosque during the Jenin cleanup campaign??
We all thought it was funny at the time.
So here is what they can do to make it right.
1. Carve out some of their desert for a homeland for the Christians that have been displaced by Zionism.
2. Remove all muslims from this area.
3. Make the capitol of this Christian homeland Bethleham.
4. Allow the Christian nation to be self-governed.
Wouldn't it be nice to have two democracies in the Middle East? They would probably form an alliance against islam terrorist.
There is no hog but allah, and mohammed is her pimp.
Pass it on!