Skip to comments.Church of Nativity Gunmen stole gold, crucifixes, escaped monks report
Posted on 04/23/2002 5:35:06 PM PDT by Shermy
Three Armenian monks, who had been held hostage by the Palestinian gunmen inside the Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, managed to flee the church area via a side gate yesterday morning. They immediately thanked the soldiers for rescuing them.
They told army officers the gunmen had stolen gold and other property, including crucifixes and prayer books, and had caused damage.
The three elderly monks were assisted by soldiers. One of them held a white cloth banner with the words "Please help."
One of the monks, Narkiss Korasian, later told reporters: "They stole everything, they opened the doors one by one and stole everything... they stole our prayer books and four crosses... they didn't leave anything. Thank you for your help, we will never forget it."
Israeli officials said the monks said the gunmen had also begun beating and attacking clergymen.
Chances of a breakthrough in the three-week standoff between the IDF and the gunmen holding clergymen and Palestinian civilians hostage inside the church took a more optimistic turn last night, following two meetings between Palestinian Authority and Israeli officials.
Officials are expected to meet for the third time today, an Israeli security official said last night, adding that the talks were conducted in a good atmosphere.
"The Palestinians insist Israel allow the gunmen to be transferred directly to Gaza with an international escort; we insist they lay down their arms and those found to be involved in terrorist activities go on trial in Israel or be deported," he said.
PA officials who participated in the meetings included Imad Natshe, the district coordinating officer; PA Minister of Tourism Mitre Abu Aita, Bethlehem Mayor Hana Nasser, and Salah Ta'amri. Col. Marcel Aviv leads the IDF negotiating team.
Last night, Nasser told The Jerusalem Post a third meeting would take place this afternoon. The atmosphere in which the talks took place was good, he said, but "frankly, there has been no progress. The Israelis are adamant that the gunmen be deported. They don't know the exact number of the gunmen and neither do we. However we insist that the gunmen be taken to Gaza accompanied by a third party.
"If there are accusations against any of them, they can be formally made to the PA court. We cannot agree to their being deported, as it violates the Oslo Accords and sets a terrible precedent.
"We also asked Israel to improve the hygienic situation inside and restore the power and water and food supplies," he said.
Yesterday was the first time that both sides met for direct talks on the issue.
Of the scores of gunmen inside the church, security officials estimate there are at least 20 fugitives affiliated with the Fatah Tanzim and Hamas.
Among them are Ibrahim Abayat, who has planned and organized terrorist activities in the area, and Jihad Ja'ara who, according to witnesses, was shot in the leg when he and the other gunmen commandeered the church.
Israel has stressed that all those who leave the church and are proven not to have been involved in terrorism will be free to return to their homes.
According to reports from those who fled the compound in recent days, there is growing dissent among the gunmen. Food and water supplies are dwindling, and the pressure is mounting, Israeli officials said. Throughout the past weeks, the IDF has given food and medication to the clergy held hostage inside; the other Palestinians held hostage by the gunmen receive water and medication.
Annan: "We, at the Imperial Holy UN, encourage the use of dynamited-wheelchairs to kill Christians, Jews, or Americans.
We also thank Mr. Arafat for his donated crosses and stunning gold artifacts,
which he sent me and my wife, Nane. Now before you antiterrorists go away,
be sure that you send the reparations YOU owe me and my wife, Nane, to our New York address."
I wish I could bump this to CNN.
The New Destruction of Civilization --- on CNN
A program on 'The Future Destruction of Israel'
narrated by Andrea Koppel and Terrorist Arafat.
A startling program on the Destruction of 'Old-Switzerland'.
Ms. Fonda Turner returns for 'The Future Destruction of America'
Do you think the Muslims would be as outraged as they are about the desecration in the Church Of The Nativity?
If anyone buys that Bravo Sierra, I have a few bridges in the Bay Area or heck any area to sell you!
It is time to clean out the garbage in the shallow end of the human genome pool.
Any body have any suggestions of where to take out the garbage next, Iran, Iraq or Syria?
Amazing that he builds up Iraq and Islam,
while in each broadcast slamming Jews, Israel, and Christians.
If I had not seen it, I would not have believed it.
They're delusional. They'd report the holocaust as the largest mass suicide outside of Russia's Gulags.
It would be amazing to believe that nothing like this would have happened. The way I read through the stories, the invasion of the Church was a pre-planned option for propaganda purposes - maybe mistaken in believing it would be a positive spin. There's hard-core terrs in there, regular gunmen, and people who just got caught up in all of it.
Oh, puhleeze! I'm sure they just wanted to pray! < /sarcasm >
If this wasn't the Church of the Nativity, I'd suggest a bunker-buster.
No more chances, no more playing nice, no more being the asses of the "civilized" world.
Gas them. Pipe a non-lethal, skin-absorbed agent into the building and put them asleep. Then remove terrorists, revive priests, execute terrorists, preferrably with lard-lubed bullets.
Could be done in a lazy afternoon.
Why?! Because you support them when they do even greater crimes, THAT'S WHY!
I don't know what their agenda truly is. I think even they don't know it, but I wish they would spend some solitary time to think it through.
This will be spun as Armenians siding with Israel against the Muslims.
Unfortunately, the Israelis aren't ten feet tall. If they were, this would not be going on, period. A few of the Palestinian Authority soldiers (a.k.a. policemen, a.k.a. terrorists) may have already escaped from the compound with sacred loot. As for the Israelis being able to search each of the fighters as they leave the church, we'll see. I'm sure they would love to, but the Palestinian side will probably push hard to not have this as a feature of any deal.
I remember how they only told the part of the story they wanted to tell with their slant. Radio Kiev was more honest and NOT the same bunch.
Today's MediaWhores (TV, most papers, radio news) are so much like the old Radio Moscow it's scary. I pay no attention to them whatsoever.
The best source for news is FreeRepublic.
Beating elderly priests? What of the nuns? Stealing prayer books and crosses? You know they have some whopper of a lie already cooked up...to blame it on the Jews.
Maybe some of us should listen to our President's wonderful speeches a bit more carefully. The stuff about Islam as a religion of peace is not all made up. Look around this web site: Islamic Supreme Council of America
Also worth mentioning is that many men and officers of the Israel Defense Force are Muslim, and I do think they feel some outrage at the Muslim who are trying to kill them.
He might as well be the Minister of Maytag Repair, or the Grand Vizier of Sinecures.
What else could they do?
Like the suicide bombers, these were acts of desperation by a people backed against the wall by the Israeli occcupation.
We need to try to understand their pain and anger after years of being marginalized.
By EDITH M. LEDERER
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday refused Israel's demand to delay and change a U.N. fact-finding mission to the war-ravaged Jenin refugee camp, directing its members to arrive in the Mideast by Saturday.
The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting after Israel sought a delay, saying it wanted more military and counter-terrorism experts added to the team and also wanted the group to investigate what it says are Palestinian terrorist activities in the camp.
At the end of a nearly two-hour session, the council issued a statement saying it expects ``fast implementation'' of a resolution welcoming the fact-finding mission - and Israel's ``full cooperation'' with the secretary-general and the team.
While the council was holding consultations, Israel's U.N. Ambassador Yehuda Lancry met Annan in his 38th floor office at U.N. headquarters to ask for changes in the team's composition and its scope of action, which Israel wants limited only to Jenin itself.
An Israeli official in Jerusalem charged that the team was chosen by Annan without consulting Israel, as had been agreed, and the members were political, not from a military background as Israel had requested.
A Western diplomat said Israel wants to negotiate terms for the team's activities in Palestinian areas, and wants one member removed, Cornelio Sommaruga, former president of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
But Annan would not discuss his choice of team members, though he did not rule out adding additional experts if necessary, a statement from the U.N. spokesman said.
Finnish Prime Minister Martti Ahtisaari, the team leader, was scheduled to fly to Geneva on Tuesday night and hook up with other members there on Wednesday. He was expecting to be in the Middle East by the end of the week.
Arab nations have accused Israel of massacring Palestinian civilians in the camp, but Israel says the deaths and destruction resulted from gunbattles between its soldiers and Palestinian gunmen. The fighting in Jenin was the fiercest of Israel's 3-week-old military offensive.
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres gave a green light to the fact-finding mission on Friday saying the country had ``nothing to hide.'' The Security Council unanimously endorsed the mission.
But Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government objected to Annan's appointments announced on Monday. He named Ahtisaari, Sommaruga and Sadako Ogata, the former U.N. high commissioner for refugees.
Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer on Monday night demanded that retired U.S. Maj. Gen. William Nash, who was appointed as military adviser, be made a full member of the team because of the complex security issues involved. He also asked that the U.N. team limit its mission only to Jenin.
Officially, it will remain a three-member team. But Ahtisaari stressed other participants such as advisers and security personnel would bring its size to about 20.
Ahtisaari told reporters on Tuesday that all members of the mission would work as a team, and Nash would play a ``crucial'' role, but as the military adviser. Neither Annan nor Ahtisaari ruled out the possibility of going outside Jenin.
Nasser Al-Kidwa, the Palestinian U.N. observer, called the Israeli decision ``blatant blackmail which will definitely undermine the integrity of the fact-finding process.''
``We thought that the Israeli side did not have anything to hide, but obviously they do,'' he said.
Al-Kidwa said he initially asked for the council meeting after explosions in the Ramallah compound where Arafat is besieged by Israeli troops and tanks, which he called ``a very dangerous development.''
The Security Council has demanded an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian cities in the West Bank, including Ramallah, and a cease-fire.
The Israeli army said it set off controlled explosions Tuesday to blow up grenades found in Arafat's compound. But Tawfik Tirawi, head of Palestinian intelligence in the West Bank, accused Israel of wanting to destroy a wall between the prison inside the compound and Arafat's office so they could easily enter.
Problems with the International Committee of the Red Cross - which Sommaruga headed from 1987 until 1999 - have been continual since Israel was first rejected for membership in the organization in 1949. The ICRC recognizes only the Cross and the Muslim Crescent as official emblems and will not sanction the Jewish Star of David as a symbol for relief workers.