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PA daily article sympathetic to terrorist deported following siege of the Church of the Nativity

Headline: "‘Church of the Nativity deportees’ – for 17 years their belief that they will return to their homes has not waned"

"Friday, May 10, 2002, will remain engraved in the mind and heart of Jihad Yusuf Ja’ara (i.e., a terrorist deported during the 2002 siege of the Church of the Nativity; see note below), 48, from the Al-Arroub refugee camp in Hebron.

On this day, his eyes looked for the last time at the land of the homeland while he was leaving the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem with his head held high, after the siege that the occupation forces had imposed on the church for more than 39 days ended with an agreement that determined the forced expulsion of Ja’ara from the land of the homeland, along with 38 civilians (sic., terrorists) who found sanctuary in the church after the occupation's invasion of Bethlehem. Thirteen of them were expelled to Europe via the Lod airport, and 26 others to the Gaza Strip by bus.

After 17 [years], Ja’ara still remembers the days of the siege in his last moments on the land of the homeland before he was deported to Cyprus, and from there to Ireland.

Ja’ara said: ‘Seventeen years have passed like the first minute when we left the beloved land of Palestine, and our hearts will remain in Palestine and we will never give up on the return to it.’

He added: ‘Our bodies are outside of Palestine, but our hearts and minds are in Palestine. We left as fighters for a just cause and will return to Palestine for a just cause; and Allah willing, we will celebrate our approaching victory with our return to Palestine.’

Ja’ara has not met his relatives since his deportation and is in contact with them by phone or internet.

He said: ‘My son Samed is celebrating his 17th birthday this May 22 [2019], as he was born the day I reached Ireland in 2002, and until now I have not met him even once.’ Israel refused Ireland’s request to allow him to participate in the funerals of his mother, father, and brother who died from 2006 on. Ja’ara emphasized that the matter of the Church of the Nativity deportees is a top priority of the Palestinian leadership and [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas, and noted the deportees have met with the president more than once, and he emphasized before them that he is dealing with the matter of their return in an intensive manner.

Siege of the Church of the Nativity - In 2002, during the PA terror campaign (the second Intifada, 2000-2005), Israel launched Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank to prevent future terror attacks against Israelis. During the operation, 39 terrorists fled to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, using dozens of hostages and the religious site as shields. After 39 days of siege by the Israeli army, the terrorists released the hostages and were deported to Gaza and Cyprus. During the siege, the church was damaged in exchanges of fire between the terrorists and the Israeli army. One clergyman was murdered by the terrorists and 8 terrorists were killed by the Israeli army.