• PALESTINE \ Aug 28, 2001
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    Israeli Soldiers took positions on the roof of a church
Israeli Soldiers took positions on the roof of a church Around midnight of August 27, Israeli military tanks heavily shelled the Bethlehem area, Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour. The Israeli army supported by helicopters, tanks and bulldozers entered the town of Beit Jala at around 1.00 am and took control of several homes and buildings.

Around 1.30 a.m. the army entered the Lutheran church premises, consisting of a church building (The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Reformation), an orphanage (Evangelical Lutheran Home) the home of fifty children, and an inter-religious center and guesthouse (the Abraham?s Herberge). Soldiers took positions on the roof of one of the church buildings, with tanks stationed immediately outside the entrance to the church premises. Until now fifty youngsters between four and eighteen years of age, are kept isolated in the Home together with some educators living on the premises. As curfew has been imposed on the town, neither the pastor nor the staff of the Home can reach the premises. Bishop Munib A. Younan reports that they are trying to find ways to bring food and other necessities to the isolated children.

"We want to make clear that no shooting has taken place, neither yesterday nor in the past, from our church buildings in Belt Jala. We are now receiving reports that the Israeli army is shooting from the position on top of our buildings, injuring and killing people in the town, which of course endangers the lives of our children", continues Younan, The Lutheran Bishop in Jerusalem.

"We denounce in the strongest possible terms the Israeli occupation of our buildings and demand that the army immediately withdraw from our church premises as well as from Beit Jala".