Israeli army attacks Christian worshipers outside Church of the Nativity
Occupied Jerusalem: 24 November, 2002 (IAP News) - with additional reporting from Hear Palestine)
Israeli occupation soldiers on Sunday pushed, beat and dragged to the ground Christian worshipers who were on their way to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
The Occupation army, which re-occupied the town two days ago, declared the Church and its vicinity, including the Manger Square, a closed military zone.
Some worshipers, however, sought to defy the ban, prompting soldiers to attack and beat them.
Earlier, Israeli troops carried out house-to-house searches throughout the Azza and Ayda refugee camps north west of the town.
A number of homes were occupied and transferred into military observation points. The Israeli army confiscated a 4-story residential building and forced dozens of people into one room. A mosque and school in the refugee camp were also raided.
Witnesses in the refugee camp reported that Israeli soldiers forced everyone out in the cold and rain for several hours.
Eyewitnesses said soldiers beat and terrorized residents including children and vandalized their furniture.
In some instances, Israeli soldiers reportedly pointed their M-16 rifles toward kids as young as five- years- old.
The occupation army also reportedly detained dozens of young Palestinians at the two camps on suspicion of supporting the resistance.
So far, Zionist forces dynamited at least six homes in the Bethlehem area alone in the past 72 hours, rendering six large families homeless.
The Israeli occupation army continues to impose a curfew on Bethlehem, Beit Sahour, Beit Jala, al-Doha, al-Khader, Irtas and the three refugee camps, Deheishe, al-Azza and Ayda.
The occupation army occupied a Palestinian police station in Tqou's Village, southeast Bethlehem, at dawn today. The workers in the building were forced out after they were held for a long period of time. Witnesses reported an intense Israeli military presence and a campaign of brutal home raids and searches in the village.
On another front, the occupation army confiscated today around 17 dunums (1dunum=1000m2) of agricultural land in al-Jaba'a Village, west of Bethlehem. According to the Land Defense Committee, the piece of land was confiscated for the benefit of the Israeli electricity company.
One of the landowners said they were shocked when they were prevented from reaching their land today by one of the company's officials who informed them that their land was confiscated.
Since the outbreak of the Palestinian intifada against Jewish domination and apartheid, the Israeli army demolished more than 3000 Palestinian homes, forcing more than 25,000 men, women and children into homelessness.
The harsh measure is considered a war crime under international law. However, the United States, Israel’s guardian ally, has always sought to shield Israel from international condemnation by vetoing Security Council resolutions condemning the Zionist regime.