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Thursday, 4 April, 2002, 18:30 GMT 19:30 UK
No let-up in Bethlehem siege
Nuns confront Israeli soldier outside St Mary's Church, Bethlehem
Nuns, monks and priests have been caught up in the action
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By the BBC's James Reynolds in Bethlehem

I tried to get to the Church of Nativity with a group of journalists, as 50 of us walked through deserted alleyways.

We were then stopped by an Israeli foot patrol. They warned us to leave.

They said they would use everything against us and so we were forced back.

We have not been able to see for ourselves what is going on in Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity.

Palestinian militants say that there have been explosions at a church door and that Israeli soldiers have entered.

But the Israeli defence force has insisted that it has not entered, so we have conflicting claims at the moment here in Bethlehem.

'People terrified'

The local people have said that they are very scared, that they are terrified.

A Palestinian woman cries in Bethlehem
Most people are still staying at home, too afraid to move

They are staying at home and most are too scared even to peep out of their windows.

Most people have been lying on the floors of their homes, hoping not to get hit by gunfire.

I did manage to speak to one family, 10 to one house, very near Manger Square.

They say that they have enough food, enough supplies for the moment.

Most people feel that they can probably last for a week, but after that, people will start to run out of supplies.

See also:

04 Apr 02 | Middle East
Bush intervenes in Mid-East crisis
04 Apr 02 | Middle East
Bethlehem priest shelters Palestinians
04 Apr 02 | UK Politics
Blair 'appalled' by Mid East violence
04 Apr 02 | Middle East
EU team meets Israeli leaders
03 Apr 02 | Middle East
US sends mixed signals on Mid-East
02 Apr 02 | Middle East
Analysis: Arafat under attack
02 Apr 02 | Middle East
Israel considers exiling Arafat
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