Palestinians who have taken sanctuary inside the Church of the Nativity in Manger Square in Bethlehem say Israeli soldiers blew off the back door of the church yesterday. Today they began firing shots into the building, wounding some inside. About 200 Palestinians, including over 40 monks and nuns, took refuge in the church three days ago, after Israeli forces invaded Bethlehem.
Reporters trying to reach the church were ordered back by Israeli soldiers waving guns in their faces. We have just received news that a French TV reporter has been shot outside the church as he tried to film the military assaults on the church. Shawki Issa is waiting outside the hospital for an ambulance to collect the injured reporter from Manger Square.
We are also joined by Tony Salman, who entered the church with the mayor of Bethlehem shortly after the standoff began three days ago. He is still confined inside the Church of the Nativity. The New York Times quotes Colonel Marcel Aviv, an Israeli Army commander, as saying: "All the people inside the church are hostages. We began negotiations with the terrorists last night and offered to send in doctors and medicine for the wounded, but they said no." Salman says this is not true.
- Shawki Issa, director, The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment (LAW).
- Tony Salman, Antonian Charitable Society (a Roman Catholic institution in Bethlehem), inside Church of the Nativity in Manger Square in Bethlehem.