Marking the 15th anniversary of their expulsion “for two years”, the families of 38 Palestinians taken by Israel from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem to Gaza and Europe have renewed their call for their return, Quds Press reported on Sunday. The families are asking for Palestinian and international action to return their sons according to the terms of the deal reached in 2002.
Speaking at a rally organised in front of the traditional birth place of Jesus, the families said that their sons’ right to return cannot be lost as the years go by. They called for the international community to put pressure on the Israeli government to commit to the terms of the deal.
The Palestinian Authority, they added, should treat this issue as it does with that of the Palestinian prisoners held by Israel and the growth in illegal settlements.
The crisis began on 2 April, 2002, when a large number of Israeli forces surrounded 250 Palestinians inside the Church of Nativity. After 40 days, the Israelis agreed to lift the blockade on condition that 38 of the 250 must be expelled to the Gaza Strip and Europe. They were only supposed to be in exile for two years.