One of the windows of the compound is black

  • Reports from inside the building hint at the growing distress of the estimated 30 to 40 clergy who appear to be suffering from a lack of food and water. Olivier Rafowicz, who is on the negotiating team.
    The Israelis have been using various methods to weaken the Palestinian resolve. It was not clear if they were bearing arms. Col. Reporters looking at a monitor saw five people on one roof of the church compound. About 35 to 40 are thought to be "the main problem," Rafowicz said. Palestinian witnesses said the monks described "shocking scenes" from within the church." Soldiers have orders to catch, but not shoot at, unarmed people who flee.Baruch said the army has not cut the water or electric power to the .
    One of the windows of the compound is black from the outside, the apparent result of the fire. David Baruch told reporters militants set the Armenian priests' living quarters on fire Monday but extinguished the flames themselves when Israelis sent the fire brigade. "They opened the doors one by one, and they stole everything."We just began the negotiations," Rafowicz told United Press International. Col."The priest said he did not fear the militants' guns but "they give us a lot of trouble." The Israelis helped the Armenians join some 30 people whom they said had earlier escaped. Reporters also saw armored personnel carriers parked in front of houses and soldiers standing in front of dwellings from a bulletproof bus led by a tank. Israeli officers and the militants have talked by phone, he said. They also were advised to wear flack jackets and helmets.Militants "stole everything," Kanrasian said."There is a Palestinian law, and the Palestinian Authority would (try) them in a Palestinian court," Tamari said. Reporters <a href="">high speed bearing</a> on an army-organized tour of Beit Jala and Bethlehem were told most Israeli soldiers are now near the church.BETHLEHEM, West Bank, April 23 (UPI) -- Israeli and Palestinian Authority representatives Tuesday met for hours in an attempt to resolve the standoff at Bethlehem's Church of Nativity amid signs that some of the people want out, though Palestinian militants have not given in.Army personnel can see some of what's happening in the church compound through two white balloons they have in the air that are equipped with cameras. At nights they use loudspeakers to broadcast recordings of shooting and explosions.The Israeli army released footage showing Narcis Kanrasian, deputy head of the Armenian Church, one of the orthodox sects represented in the Church of the Nativity, talking about the three weeks he stayed in the church before deciding to escape.Salah Tamari, a Palestinian Authority legislature representative from Bethlehem at the negotiations, said Israeli demands would be rejected, including one that militants be handed over to an Israeli court. Short bursts of light arms fire were occasionally heard from the direction of the church, where Christians believe Jesus was born.(Saud Abu Ramadan in Gaza contributed to this report. No agreement was reached after several hours of negotiations. An estimated 200 to 235 armed Palestinians are also in the church, along with 50 younger people, including two who are 10 years old, said Lt.Meanwhile, three Armenian priests on top of the church Tuesday attracted Israeli soldiers' attention when they displayed a white sheet on which they wrote in red block letters, "Please help.)

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