Monday, February 1, 2010

Nativity Church deportees call for their release

Gaza – Ma'an – The Nativity Church deportees appealed on Monday to President Mahmoud Abbas to interfere in their case and secure their return to Bethlehem, following eight years of forced exile in the Gaza Strip.

During a news conference, which proceeded a rally by the deportees' families to the headquarters of the Red Cross in Gaza, deportees called on international institutes and human rights organizations to assist in their return to Bethlehem.

Moreover, the Nativity Church deportees called for an end to Palestinian political rivalry and the holding of general elections across the territories.

In 2002 during Operation Defensive Shield the Israeli army occupied Bethlehem in an attempt to capture Palestinian militants. As a result, many sought refuge in the Church of the Nativity. Following a 39 day siege on the church, Palestinians turned themselves in and were exiled to Europe and the Gaza Strip.