Greek priests fight it out in Bethlehem

Seven people were injured yesterday when Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests came to blows in a dispute over how to clean the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem – believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus. Following Christmas celebrations, Greek Orthodox priests set up ladders to clean the walls and ceilings on their part of the church. But the ladders encroached on space controlled by Armenian priests, quickly prompting an angry exchange of words and blows. Palestinian police, armed with batons and shields, intervened as the priests went at each other with brooms and stones inside the church. Two policemen were injured in their attempt to break up the brawl. Local authorities then formed a human cordon to separate the two sides so cleaning could continue.