Israelis Firing at Monastery, Say Franciscans in Bethlehem

Order´s Superior Alerted in Rome

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ROME, APRIL 11, 2002 ( The Custodian of Bethlehem´s Basilica of the Nativity this afternoon accused the Israelis of firing at the Franciscan monastery.

At 13:30 GMT, Father Ibrahim Faltas telephoned Father Giacomo Bini, Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor, in Rome, to tell him that Israeli soldiers began to fire at the basilica, the sacristy and the monastery´s kitchen, ZENIT learned.

Father Faltas also called the Misna missionary agency to make a dramatic appeal: «They are shooting at the monastery and at us. We don´t know what is happening in the Nativity complex, we have heard detonations, but we don´t know what is happening outside there.»

«They have broken at least four windows of the Casa Nova residence — center for receiving pilgrims — a window of the sacristy, they have also damaged the kitchen, they are shooting all over. … They follow us everywhere when we move inside the monastery,» the priest said.

In a statement sent to ZENIT [see today´s dispatch], Father Bini disclosed that Franciscans have been «denied permission to enter the Casa Nova,» and that «it is feared that special units of the Israeli army are stationed in the interior.»

«Since yesterday evening, the supplies of water and food have run out; the removal of the body of the young Palestinian killed has not been permitted; it is not possible to provide suitable care to the other gravely wounded Palestinian,» the Franciscan friar explained.

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