After 37 days, an agreement to solve the crisis at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem has been achieved. The agreement’s main points are as follows:
– All the innocent people who were held hostage inside the church are now free to leave.
– The 26 wanted people have been exiled to Palestinian Authority territory in the Gaza Strip.
– All those exiled and the Palestinian Authority have personally committed not to return to terror activity in the future. Those exiled were evacuated from the Church of Nativity under supervision, were examined by IDF and treated according to the agreement.
– The 13 wanted terrorists will stay within the church until a country that agrees to receive them is found, at which point they will be immediately exiled.
– The IDF Spokesperson emphasizes that throughout the entire negotiations the IDF was meticulous to preserve the sanctity of the church. Not a single Israeli soldier entered the church premises and neither does the IDF have any intent to enter the compound once it has been evacuated.
– We recall that at the beginning of the IDF operations in the town of Bethlehem as part of operation “Defensive Shield”, designated to strike at the Palestinian Authority’s terror infrastructure, many terrorists entered and seized control over the Church of Nativity and over two hundred others entered with them. Since the very beginning of this dispute, the Israeli Security Forces conducted negotiations in effort to liberate the innocent hostages inside the church, and to return the church itself to its Legal owners, while using all measures to preserve the respect and dignity of the location and the priests.
IDF did this while insisting that all the involved in terror activity, who seized control over the church, not be released freely and not participate in terror activity in the future. It is important to make note that from the very beginning of negotiations and up until today, 95 people were released from the church.