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Bethlehem Church of Nativity reclaimed by Israeli army

Israeli troops have taken over the West Bank city of Bethlehem and once again surrounded the Church of the Nativity.

It is the latest in a series of raids into Palestinian autonomous areas.

Before daybreak, tanks again rolled into Bethlehem, a larger raid than the one mounted the day before that targeted just a handful of houses.

This time, troops arrested scores of men in Bethlehem and the Deheisheh refugee camp and sealed off the Church of the Nativity.

Israel's army said it did not want men it was persuing seeking refuge there.

Israel Army chief-of-staff Shoul Mafaz had earlier said that larger operations might be ordered in the future if the current raids failed to stop Palestinian suicide bombers striking Israeli targets.

In the past few days the Israeli army has also invaded Tulkarem, Qalqilya and parts of the Gaza Strip near Khan Yunis where Palestinian sources say a 17-year-old has been killed by an Israeli tank shell.


28 May 2002