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December 20, 2005

Palestinian Gunmen From The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades Attack Bethlehem Mayor's Office On Manger Square Next To Where Christ Was Born

Topics: Middle East News and Perspectives

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About 15 members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed "offshoot" of the ruling Fatah movement, burst into the Mayor's office building on Manger Square, next to the Church of the Nativity, and occupied it.

As most of the world is well aware, The Church of the Nativity, in the heart of Bethlehem, marks one of Christianity's most sacred sites - the birthplace of Christ.

Their stated reason was that they were acting "in protest" at the Palestinian Authority's failure to provide financial assistance to 300 activists.

According to a "Brigades" member, the timing was purposely chosen to coincide with the Christmas season because of the international community's attention toward Bethlehem - so the timing of the attack symbolizes the Palestinian terrorist's utter disregard for Christianity's holiest site, and Christianity itself, as well as for the Palestinian Authority.

The gunmen appeared on the roof of city hall Tuesday morning near the church. Hundreds of Palestinian police and onlookers rushed to Manger Square, and the gunmen pointed their weapons toward the crowd.

After about an hour, the gunmen, who have ties to the ruling Fatah movement, met with the governor of Bethlehem, Salah Taameri, and then walked out of the building.

Taameri said Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas spoke to the gunmen by phone. Some of the armed men were members of the security forces and others belonged to the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a violent Fatah offshoot. The Al Aqsa gunmen demanded to be put on the government payroll and the security officers demanded back wages that had not been paid, Taameri said.
This isn't the first time that Palestinian terrorists have brought violence to Manger Square.

Back in April of 2002, it became one of the front lines in a phase of the Israeli assault on the Palestinians. About 30 armed terrorists took refuge in the Church, with 50 nuns, monks and priests, and more than 100 other civilians still inside, and kept them hostage. One or more of the gunmen had been accused of involvement in the murder of an Israeli cabinet minister.

Posted by Richard at December 20, 2005 8:51 AM



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