The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is one of the oldest continuously operating churches in the world. The structure is built over the cave that tradition marks as the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth, and thus it is considered sacred by Christians. The structure is actually a combination of two churches, with a crypt beneath the Grotto of the Nativity where Jesus was supposedly born:
On April, 2002, during the second Intifada some 50 armed Palestinians wanted by the IDF locked themselves in the church, holding 200 hostages (also Palestinians). Because of the sensitivity of the building the IDF did not break into the building, but prevented the entry of food. The siege lasted 39 days in which many of the hostages tried to escape from the building. Some of the gunmen were shot by IDF snipers. After lengthy negotiations it was agreed that the gunmen would be evacuated to Gaza or Cyprus in exchange for the release the hostages.
Bethlehem, Palestine, 2012.
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