Even Israelis are astonished at government's obstinate attitude to Friars

Bethlehem (Fides) - Another night of anguish and fear for the inmates in the Franciscan monastery in Bethlehem. "Yesterday evening just after seven, there was an enormous explosion" Fides was told this morning by one of the Friars. "It was very close to the Nativity". Concerned that it was the beginning of another strike the friars could not sleep: they spent the night praying and encouraging each other. Only as dawn broke some managed to close their eyes and rest.

Meanwhile the scandal of no water and light for the friars continues. Custody spokesman Father David Jaeger OFM, told Fides: "All day yesterday, as on previous days, the Custody pleaded insistently with every sector of the Israeli authorities military and civil. At midnight last night I tried to contact the highest military authorities through civilian Israeli friends of mine. I pleaded without arguing. I stressed that this is a simple humanitarian problem which they have the power to solve. A solution for the crisis depends on both sides, but the question of supplying water and electrical power is in the hands of the Israelis. My efforts were to no avail, absolutely useless. This is hallucinating, I simply cannot understand, and neither can my many friends in Israel. I have spoken with university professors, with business men... At first they can hardly believe this attitude; then they themselves phone the authorities and are astonished, they cannot understand this obstinate keeping the friars, out of all the occupants of the Nativity compound, without water and light".

Fides 12/4/2002
12. april 2002