“Let us work together to replace despair with HOPE, fear with human SECURITY and humiliation with DIGNITY”

Attacks on Bethlehem

Some of you have contacted us in the last day to ask what the situation in Bethlehem is like as you’ve heard word of the Israeli military entering the city.

Dear Friends,

Some of you have contacted us in the last day to ask what the situation in Bethlehem is like as you’ve heard word of the Israeli military entering the city.

When we left the Center on late Thursday afternoon, we did not have a clue of what was to come.  Although the Israelis had entered parts of Ramallah, Al-Bireh and Jenin in the early hour of the morning in response to the assassination of Minister Ze’evi, a late afternoon report on Thursday in the Ha’aretz said they did not intend to enter Bethlehem, Jericho or Hebron. 

However, around 6:00 pm, the Israelis assassinated 3 Fatah activists, evidently through a bobby-trapped car, in a residential area on a road between Bethlehem and Beit Sahour.  Within a short time, the shops quickly closed and the streets were full of men going to the hospital in Beit Jala where the bodies had been taken.  It didn’t take long for people to realize that the situation would escalate in the next few hours.

And they were right.  By 10:00 pm, heavy exchanges of fire had begun between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers.  Soon, the Israeli tanks and helicopter gun ships also entered the picture.  Off and on all night long firing continued, making sleep impossible for most of the residents of Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour.  Israeli tanks rolled into Bethlehem and Beit Jala around 1:00 am, moving down Hebron Road and Manger Street in Bethlehem and behind Talitha Kumi School and Aida Refugee Camp in Beit Jala.

As day dawned Friday, reports were that the Israeli Forces had occupied both the new Intercontinental Hotel on Hebron Road and the Paradise Hotel on Manger Street.  They had also taken position on a hill south of the Church of Nativity. 

But what does all this mean? 

Palestinians in the Bethlehem area have become almost used to being trapped in our town, particularly in the last 13 months of the Intifada.  But, now, not only are we trapped, we also face the turret of a tank no matter which direction we look.  (The Israeli occupation forces reports they have deployed 30 tanks in the area now.) Life has come to a stop.  On Friday, no one could get to the Center, as most staff lived in areas in which heavy firing was occurring.  For the safety of the students, all schools are closed (a 10-year old school girl was killed by Israeli fire on Thursday morning in Jenin), shops are closed today in memorial of the three Palestinians who were killed yesterday in their homes by Israeli fire.

Even now as we write this, tanks shells are exploding around the Bethlehem area and a young girl and a young woman in Beit Jala have just been killed.  Some of our staff have just called, Faten and Carol, and are in the middle of extremely heavy firing.

What do we feel? 

There is no time to feel, to weep, death comes upon death, destruction follows destruction.  As the shelling becomes louder and nearer, as we listen to the wailing of the ambulance sirens going nearby, we urge you not to leave us ‘orphans.’  Do not forget us in our time of trial.  Pray for us, but in these days, more importantly, contact your government officials urging them to intercede before more people are killed.

+ The Staff of the International Center


2015-07-09T08:31:21+00:00 October 22nd, 2001|Categories: Press Releases, Uncategorized|