The IDF entered Bethlehem on March 29th following massive missile, mortar and machine gun attacks upon the Jerusalem Gilo neighborhood that emanated from Bethlehem, Beit Jala, and the UNRWA refugee camps in and around Bethlehem.

Instead of firing at the IDF from Palestinian military positions throughout Bethlehem, the PLO dispatched 150 trained sharpshooters to take cover and fire from the safe haven of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem while holding more than 100 Christian clerics hostage over the weekend, using the world’s major Christian shrine as an armed refuge and firing sporadically at Israeli troops, while the IDF issued straight orders not to respond with fire on holy places.

IDF officials said that these men are armed with automatic weapons and that a number of them are highly wanted terrorists. Meanwhile, the PLO armed forces holed up in the church rejected the IDF’s offer to evacuate the wounded and to allow the armed men to turn themselves in, if their safety was assured.

Over the weekend the IDF evacuated five priests and three nuns from the Church of the Nativity. Security sources said that Franciscan and Catholic patriarchates claim that the armed Palestinians had treated them violently and had caused damage to the church. The impasse continues, with the Catch-22 situation which prevents the IDF initiating any action to free the hostages and capture the terrorists because they are located within a Christian holy site. Vatican officials presented a plan for solving the crisis: The Palestinians would lay down their arms and leave the church premises, while Israel would lift its siege on the site.

However, the Palestinians rejected the offer.

Meanwhile, the Vatican Ambassador to Israel, Msgr. Pietro Sambi, vehemently denied the rumor spread by the PA and reported on in Palestinian PA media, which claimed that the IDF had murdered a priest in Bethlehem.

The military successes of the operation have been largely ignored by Western media.

Kaes Adwan, the most senior of the wanted Hamas operatives was killed on Friday.

In the course of the fighting, the forces noticed a suspicious car parked at the entrance to the house where the wanted men were hiding. The force fired at the car and it exploded. It was discovered that this was a car bomb which had already been prepared for detonation. The IDF believes that Adwan planned to sneak the car into Israel in order to perpetrate a massive terror attack.

“The killing of Adwan is a tough blow to Hamas, said a senior figure in the IDF. Dr. Abed al-Aziz Rantisi, a Hamas leader who sits in Arafat’s cabinet, expressed his sorrow at the killing of Adwan.

He promised that the response would be “tough and extremely painful”. However, Rantisi said that the assassination would not harm Hamas activity. “Kaes Adwan is no more then one percent of the people at his level who operate in the Izzadin Kassam troops”, he said. He said that Hamas’s revenge would be “a serious operation against Israel that would undermine the stability of the Zionist state”.

Kaes Adwan was responsible for the murder of 77 Israeli. Palestinian sources agreed that his killing is a harsh blow to the military branch of Hamas. Adwan, 25, was a senior figure in Izzadin Kassam, Hamas’s military branch. with Hamas. Adwan was wanted in Israel over the past few years for his involvement in many terror attacks. He was responsible for:

  • The terror attack at Mei-Ami, in which the terrorist Zayid Kilani detonated a bomb he was carrying, killing an Israeli civilian.
  • The terror attack at Sbarro’s in Jerusalem in August, 2001. Adwan recruited and dispatched the terrorist who blew himself up, killing 15 Israelis and injuring dozens more.
  • The terror attack at the Nahariya train station in September, 2001.

    Adwan recruited and dispatched the suicide bomber, Shaker Hibeishi, an Israeli Arab from Abu Snan, who murdered three Israelis and injured dozens.

  • The terror attack on the bus in Haifa in December 2001, in which 16 Israelis were killed and dozens injured.
  • Dispatching a suicide bomber to perpetrate a terror attack in Jerusalem, which did not succeed because the GSS captured the terrorist. The terrorist, Rassan Abu Smada, said during his interrogation that he had been recruited and sent by Adwan.
  • The terror attack at the Park Hotel in Netanya in which 26 Israelis were killed and more than 100 injured.
  • The terror attack at the Matza restaurant in Haifa. Adwan located and sent the suicide bomber who killed 16 Israelis.

    On a Tangential Note:

    Two companies of reservists serving in Bethlehem were forced to sleep in an apartment adjacent to the Church of the Nativity. The soldiers entered the home, sent the entire family into one of the rooms, and when they received instructions to leave the place early in the morning, they collected a kitty of NIS 1,500 and gave it to the family.

    “We went into their home, used their rooms, and therefore they deserve to be paid, explained one soldier. When the soldiers gave the money to the family, they expressed their regret to the family and added, “This is a time of war”.

    Other reservists in the Nablus sector sent hot meals to families, giving up their own lunches. Avi, a reservist, said, “We encountered an entire Palestinian family, elderly people with their children and grandchildren. They were frightened and thought we were going to kill them. When we received a hot meal, we gave it to them. They were shocked”. The next night, those same soldiers returned to the home and discovered that a member of this family suffers from an ingrown toe-nail and must undergo surgery. They called in the doctor, Dr. Eyal Dekel, who carried out the procedure, ending the pain.

    In Kalkilya, IDF troops entered a home, searched it and before they left, the soldiers made a point to clean the house: they swept up and put the furniture back where it was.


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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.