December 26, 2006

Bethlehem Christians fear Israel's allowing return of deported Fatah and Hamas gunmen

Reports that Israel is considering allowing a group of gunmen who were deported in 2002 after hiding inside the Church of the Nativity to return home have left some Christian residents here seriously concerned for their safety. Thirteen of the gunmen were deported to different European countries, while another 26 were expelled to the Gaza Strip. The gunmen, belonging to both Fatah and Hamas, were holed up in the church for 39 days before European mediators reached a deal with Israel according to which the fugitives would be permitted to walk out unharmed.