Two Sides, Two Stories, One Church >
This Christian Science Monitor article (April 9, 2002) examines how the standoff at
the Church of the Nativity represents the "the larger ways in which Israelis
and Palestinians refuse to consider the validity of each other's claims to the
land that is at the heart of their conflict."
The Nativity Sin >
In this National Review commentary (April 24, 2002), Ariel Cohen takes issue with
religious leaders who condemned Israel for the violence at the Church of the Nativity. He
writes: "Taking clergy hostage at gunpoint in a church is a war crime and
violation of international law. ... Over 50 gunmen took 200 hostages and locked
them up, half-starving, in the sprawling church complex. Instead of decrying
this act of barbarity, church representatives and spokesmen from a number of
foreign ministries around the world blamed Israel."
At the Church of the Nativity >
A first person account from Larry Hales, one of the peace protesters who
attempted to breach the Israeli blockade to bring food and water to the
Palestinians in the church. He writes: "We held our hands up while yelling at
the people inside to open the door, then, the soldiers moved towards us started
pulling us up and throwing the food away from the door."
Conversation with Anton Salman >
A Christian, Anton Salman is the lawyer for the Church of the Nativity. He
volunteered to stay in the church for the entirety of the siege, and served as
a link between those inside and the Israeli negotiators. CNN conducted this
interview with him by phone from inside the church on the second day of the
Background on the Church and the Siege
Illustrated Timeline of the Siege >
An illustrated timeline on the Bethlehem siege from the BBC, with a diagram
showing what took place where.
Picture Gallery >
An online collection of photographs of the end of the siege from The
Bethlehem: the Site Where Jesus Was Born >
A comprehensive history--with pictures--of the town of Bethlehem and the
compound of Church of the Nativity from the Christian Franciscan order.
Church with a Turbulent History >
A diagram of the church and an overview of the its 1600 year history from the
360 Degree Images of the Pre-Siege Church >
The Jerusalem Post provides Quicktime VR panoramic images of the Church
of the Nativity before the siege, in addition to pictures of other holy
The Basilica of the Nativity >
A description of the layout and history of the Basilica of the Nativity from the Israeli state
International Law Protecting Religious Sites
Call From UNESCO to Protect Religious Sites >
On April 11, 2002, as the siege at the Church of the Nativity raged on, the
Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO) wrote letters to Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Shimon Peres, and to the President of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat,
imploring the leaders "to respect the sacred character of religious sites"
in the Palestinian territories. He reminded Peres that, as a signatory to the
1956 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of
Armed Conflict, Israel
was required to do "everything in its power" to ensure that the provisions of
that convention were complied with.
UN Resolution: Protecting Religious Sites >
Following the destruction of two ancient statues of Buddha in Afghanistan by
the Taliban, in May 2001 the UN General Assembly passed a resolution condemning
attacks on all of the world's holy sites. The Assembly called on governments to
take action to prevent threats or acts of violence against religious sites.
Both the Palestinians and the
Israelis were criticized for violating the spirit of this and other international
agreements aimed at safeguarding holy sites during the siege. Here's the text
of the UN resolution [excerpted.]
The World Heritage Convention >
In 1972 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO) adopted the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural
and Natural Heritage. It has been signed by over 170 countries, including
Israel. Under the convention, a Committee of representatives from the signatory states maintains a "World Heritage List"
of sites of particular historical
or cultural value; currently the list includes 721 sites, two in Israel. The
signatory States agree "not to take any deliberate measures which might
damage directly or indirectly the cultural and natural heritage ... situated
on the territory of other States Parties."