Bethlehem University appeals for protection

 After two long nights of heavy Israeli bombardment, we at Bethlehem University are pleading for international intervention to help spare our Vatican-sponsored Palestinian university from further shelling of our campus. The many precautionary attempts which we have taken to try to protect the University from the heavy exchange of gunfire around the University, including daily appeals to local, national, consular and ecclesiastical authorities, as well as strengthening security measures and flying the Vatican flag, have, unfortunately, not produced results. Over the past two days, every building on campus except the Library has been hit by gunfire, with evidence of at least 45 tank shells and hundreds of bullets found in the aftermath. Over 66 windows have been broken, including 40 in the new soon-to-be-completed Academic Building. The residence of the De La Salle Christian Brothers (among whom are eight Americans, three British and one Palestinian) has been pummelled by at least 110 bullets over the past two days, including several in or near bedrooms of the Brothers. Serious damage has been incurred in the Midwifery Laboratory, to water storage tanks and water pipes, to various parts of historic Bethlehem Hall, to stonework on several buildings around campus and in the new Academic Building. Considering the heavy bombardment to which we have been subjected, we are extremely fortunate that no one has been billed or injured. We are deeply concerned that each additional day Israeli tanks and soldiers remain in Bethlehem (and other Palestinian areas), determined and at times indiscriminate resistance to the occupation will continue and thousands of lives of innocent people will be endangered. We are also concerned that attacks on Christian institutions and holy sites such as Bethlehem University, Holy Family Hospital, the Children's Creche, St. Catherine's Nativity Church and on other important sites such as Husseini Hospital, the Paradise Hotel, and the Hodali Building will also continue and wreak incalculable damage, physical and psychological, to the city of Christ's birth. We at Bethlehem University appeal to you in the strongest possible terms to do whatever you can to help put an end to this tragic situation. Pressuring Israel to withdraw immediately its military from Bethlehem and other Palestinian cities would offer, at least for the moment, relief to those of us caught in the dangerous crossfire of Israeli occupation and Palestinian resistance. For more details you can contact Brother Vincent, Tel 00 972 2 274-1242 Fax 00 972 2 274-4440; e-mail:

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