Israeli army destroys holy site
A Palestinian Greek Orthodox priest said over the weekend that Israeli forces had destroyed a Christian pilgrimage site, but Israel's army said it did not know the small cave had religious significance.
Fr Aziz Halaweh said a small cave near the Church of St. Barbara near Ramallah was destroyed on Friday. "The Israeli army on Friday night detonated explosives at the site of Saint Barbara. I found that this small site was completely destroyed and became a pile of scattered stones," he said. Father Halaweh said Christian pilgrims hold prayer services at the small site next to the church.
An Israeli army spokesman said troops had spotted suspicious activities at the site. Fearing booby traps, they "blew up a small section of the cave when it was empty." The army said it had been unaware the site was holy to Christians until commanders spoke to priests there on Saturday. "The army respects all holy sites and would not damage a site designated as one," the spokesman said.
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5 Jun 2002