Chronology of Siege in Bethlehem
Translation to Arabic | Translation to most European Languages


By: The Associated Press

Main events during Israeli army siege of armed Palestinians in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem:

April 2: About 30 Palestinian gunmen shoot open the doors of a Franciscan monastery in the compound of the church and break into the compound with their weapons, fleeing from invading Israeli troops. About 170 Palestinian police and civilians enter the compound with the gunmen, seeking refuge from the Israeli fire. The Israeli invasion is part of a large-scale military operation in the West Bank to crush Palestinian militias behind deadly attacks on Israelis. Several dozen priests, monks and nuns are caught in the compound.

April 4: A Palestinian bell ringer is killed by an Israeli sniper while walking to the church.

April 5: Four priests leave the church.

April 7: Pope John Paul II expresses grave concern for the priests inside the church.

April 8: Christian leaders call on Israel to leave Bethlehem after a gunbattle erupts around the church. Israel said the Palestinians opened fire, wounding two Israeli border policemen, but a Franciscan official accuses Israel of violating ``every canon of human decency.''

April 13: Christian leaders meet visiting Secretary of State Colin Powell in a bid to end the deadlock. A Palestinian is fatally shot in an adjoining hostel. Palestinians said he was a civilian. Israel radio said he was armed and taking aim at soldiers.

April 14: Israel says it will let the gunmen leave unharmed if they agree to face trial in Israel or accept permanent exile. The Palestinians refuse.

April 15: Troops exchange fire with the gunmen. Two men from the compound are later evacuated by an Israeli ambulance.

April 17: A Palestinian who left the church is shot and wounded by Israeli soldiers. He is taken to a hospital. A sick priest is evacuated to a hospital.

April 23: In a first round of negotiations, Palestinians propose that gunmen who are on Israel's wanted list be taken to the Gaza Strip. Israel says they must be tried in Israel or deported.

April 24: Two Palestinians inside the compound are shot. One man, seriously wounded by an Israeli sniper while standing by a window inside the church, dies later in a hospital. Two Palestinian police surrender, saying they are ill.

April 25: Nine young Palestinian civilians come out of church and are detained overnight for questioning by Israeli troops.

April 26: Four Palestinian policemen surrender. Two Palestinians inside the compound are wounded by Israeli sniper fire, evacuated and given medical treatment.

April 27: A Palestinian in the church courtyard is wounded by Israeli sniper and evacuated for treatment.

April 28: Intense negotiations fail to bring agreement, but both sides indicate the talks will continue.

April 29: Talks remain deadlocked. An Israeli sniper kills a Palestinian militiaman when he walks into a courtyard of the compound.

April 30: Twenty-six Palestinians emerge from the church after the sides agree on a deal for them to leave the besieged compound.

May 1: Two Palestinian policemen leave the compound; one has a gunshot wound to the shoulder and the other is sick.

May 2: A fire breaks out inside the compound, about 50 feet from the church, during a heavy exchange of fire between Palestinian gunmen inside and Israeli troops surrounding the site. Three people are slightly burned while trying to put out the blaze.

May 3: Foreigners who elude Israeli troops to enter the compound tell reporters by telephone of the harsh conditions inside with only grass and leaves for food and of damage to buildings near the basilica.

May 4: Negotiations intensify, switching to a higher level. Israeli troops shoot and kill one gunman in the compound.

May 6: Palestinian officials say deal is reached to expel six to nine Palestinian militants to Italy, and transfer more than 30 others to a Gaza prison guarded by American and British jailers. Israeli officials say progress is significant but the agreement falls through with Italy saying it wasn't informed.

May 9: After another plan falls through early Thursday, breakthrough announced later in the day with Italy and Spain to take some of the militants, while Austria, Greece, Luxembourg and Ireland taking the rest.

May 10:
Palestinians leave church, bringing an end to the standoff.

05/10/02 00:34 EDT


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