Palestinian terrorist commanders have come clean about the government-level conspiracy in 2002 to paint Israel in a bad light in the Christian world by baiting the Israeli army to lay siege to Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, the traditional birthplace of Jesus.
In early 2002, Israeli forces launched a massive anti-terror offensive against Palestinian groups that were carrying out daily suicide bomb and shooting attacks against Israeli civilians. Part of that offensive targeted the Bethlehem stronghold of the "military wings" of then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement. As Israeli forces advanced on the wanted Fatah terrorists, most of them made a dash for the Church of the Nativity. They took refuge in the holy site along with 94 hostages for over a month with the Israeli army surrounding, but refusing to storm, the compound.
During that time, Arab spokesmen and the international media took every opportunity to point out that the Israeli military was laying siege to one of Christianity's holiest sites. In an interview with WorldNetDaily, one of the Fatah terrorist ground commanders said that is precisely what Arafat and his regime wanted.
"The conspiracy was to make a siege and put all the fighters inside the church so Israel would make the siege. People from the Palestinian Authority collaborated with this conspiracy," Eiman Abu Eita, Fatah's top terrorist commander in the Bethlehem satellite town of Beit Sahour at the time, told WorldNetDaily.
Video footage following the siege revealed that the Fatah men badly mistreated the 45 priests and nuns who were present in the church, as well as desecrating Bibles and other Christian symbols.