arafat barred from xmas mass.

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    I found it quite interesting that Arafat, whom most regard as hard-core Muslim/ hardened terrorist traditionally used to attend Midnight Mass in Bethlehem, at the birthplace of Christ.
    So for the second year running, he is being denied access to Mass.
    Does Israel fear that people may see him as other than that portrayed by them? That he might be seen to have compassion?
    If the boot was on the other foot, would Arafat deny Sharon the right to bang his head at the "Wailing Wall"?
    I dont think Yassar would stoop to being so petty.

    Arafat barred from Xmas mass


    ISREAL is to bar Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat from attending traditional Christmas mass in the West Bank town of Bethlehem for the second year running, public radio said quoting senior officials.

    The radio said the reasons for barring the veteran leader "have not changed".
    "Arafat is pursuing terrorism and he has been essentially docked for the past year," it said.

    Measures have also been put in place to ensure the embattled Palestinian does not slip out of Ramallah, it added.

    If he Arafat manages to evade security forces and reach Jesus Christ's birthplace, Israel will raid his battered Ramallah headquarters and arrest his entourage, including West Bank intelligence chief Tawfiq Tirawi, the radio said.

    In September, Israel demanded Arafat hand over Tirawi and other officials during a 10 day siege of the Palestinian leader's headquarters, but Israel then beat a hasty retreat after coming under heavy international criticism for the operation.

    Bethlehem, which has a sizeable Christian population, was reoccupied by Israel on November 21 and placed under curfew following a suicide bombing in Jerusalem that killed 11 people.

    A senior army official was quoted as saying on army radio yesterday that Israel does not plan to withdraw from the southern West Bank city for Christmas because of a "continuing threat of attacks".

    Since the creation of the Palestinian Authority in 1994 following the Oslo peace accords, Arafat has attended midnight Christmas mass in Bethlehem, except last year when he was prevented.

    This report appears on

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