Bethlehem peace centre wrecked

 A centre in Bethlehem dedicated to the promotion of religious tolerance, peace and democracy was virtually destroyed by Israeli forces during their 38-day occupation. Staff from the Bethlehem Peace Centre have now drawn up a report describing the extensive damage and destruction left by the army. Immediately after the invasion, the Israelis set up their headquarters in the centre. It was also used for interrogations and detention of Palestinians and internationals during the siege of the Church of the Nativity. The director of the Bethlehem Peace Centre returned to the centre on Friday 10 May, while the Israeli occupation soldiers were still evacuating from the back of the building. Within an hour, diplomats of the Swedish Consulate General in Jerusalem joined him. "What we encountered was a scene of utter devastation, inexplicable and inexcusable even under the circumstance of a military occupation. This is certainly not the hallmark of a civilized army", he said. The centre was coated in a mixture of dirt, beer, wine, urine, eggs, rotting food, spilt coffee and tea from wall to wall, room to room and floor to floor, he said. The bathrooms had faeces and vomit in the toilets, on the floors and on the walls, the centre reported. The report said not a single desk or chair remaining in its original place. Doors and drawers and cash boxes were all forced open. Hundreds of keys were strewn throughout the building, including under various toilet seats. At least seven computers and printers, fax machines, a photocopier, all the telephones, a laminator, two scanners, a video projector, a DVD, a VCR, two televisions, two slide projectors, two sound mixers, CD players, microphones and a digital camera - had gone. Many official files and scores of personal items, including private family photographs, were also taken." It added: "The defilement of the Bethlehem Peace Centre proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that the destruction of Palestinian civil society and the looting was not only tolerated by the military, but was orchestrated by the Israeli occupation army at the highest level and was, indeed, one of the objectives of 'Objective Defensive Shield'". source: Amos Trust

Share this story