- BETHLEHEM (AFP) - Israeli
forces took over the biblical city of Bethlehem in their drive against
Palestinian towns on the West Bank, killing five people in the latest fighting
and bombarding the headquarters of the regional security chief.
- Elsewhere on the West Bank, Ramallah central hospital
said it had started burying corpses in its parking lot after the town's
morgue overflowed under the death toll of Israel's five-day-old invasion
and ambulances were unable to reach the cemetery.
- Israeli forces fired on several churches in Bethlehem
on Tuesday, church officials said, adding that a priest previously reportedly
slain was alive.
- Father Raed Awad, secretary to the patriarch of the Roman
Catholic Church in Jerusalem, also said some nuns might have been injured
as Israeli tanks took over the city. But he could not confirm previous
reports that seven had been shot.
- "A Lutheran church was hit and a shell entered the
office of the pastor," he told AFP.
- Hospital sources said earlier that Israeli forces had
fired on two churches in Bethlehem on Tuesday, killing a priest and wounding
at least seven nuns.
- Also caught up in the turmoil of the operation launched
two days after Easter was Bethlehem's main Omar mosque which caught fire
late Tuesday for undetermined reasons, an AFP journalist said.
- Around 150 people, 20 of them wounded, were stranded
inside the Church of the Nativity in central Bethlehem after taking shelter
from Israeli gunfire, Palestinian witnesses said.
- Israeli forces Tuesday killed three Palestinian militants
and a teenage bystander in a shootout in Bethlehem, Palestinian security
- The Israelis also shot dead another Palestinian man as
he was driving his car in the town of Hebron to the south, the sources
- They said three members of the Al Aqsa Brigades, an armed
offshoot of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, were gunned
down in a firefight in Bethlehem's market.
- A 15-year-old boy caught in the crossfire was also killed,
the sources said.
- And a Palestinian militant was killed by soldiers near
the Erez crossing point between the northern Gaza Strip and Israel late
- Bethlehem was the fifth town taken as Israeli troops
swept the West Bank hunting for Palestinian militants after laying siege
to Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah on Friday.
- Mussa Abu Hmed, head of West Bank hospital services,
said Ramallah hospital morgue's capacity of 18 bodies had been overflowing
- Adding to the soaring death toll, a Palestinian woman
was shot dead by Israeli forces as she left the hospital after receiving
treatment, medical sources said.