Christian clergymen visit ransacked mosques, churches in Bethlehem

Bethlehem: 12 May, 2002 (IAP News)

Clergymen from major Christian denominations in Bethlehem visited on Sunday
a number of churches and mosques vandalized and ransacked by Israeli
occupation troops.

The clergymen, led by Patriarch Michale Sabbah, also visited the Omar Ibn
al-Khattab Mosque which stands across the Church of Nativity on the
western side of the Manger Square in Bethlehem.

Both the mosque and the Church were vandalized and ransacked by the Israeli

Speaking outside the mosque, Sabbah criticized the Israeli government for
"insisting on maintaining the occupation and tormenting the Palestinian

"I can't understand why the Israeli government is so bent on prolonging the
life of the military occupation. I can't understand why the Israelis are
refusing to leave the west Bank and Gaza Strip, which is only 5000 square
kilometers, or 22% of Palestine."

Sabbah went on: "Is Israel harboring a dream of arrogating all of Palestine
and without its Arab inhabitants. Now, after a hundred years, it is time
Israel recognizes the impossibility of such a dream. Today there are more
than three million Palestinians in the occupied territories and Israel must
come to terms with this reality."