Priests Brawl With Brooms at Church of the Nativity

Punch-up in Bethlehem injures 5 priests, 2 cops
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2007 6:58 AM CST
Palestinian police officers intervene in a fight that erupted between Greek Orthodox deacons and Armenian priests during the cleaning of the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A holiday cleanup at the church built over the grotto in Bethlehem where Christians believe Jesus was born turned ugly Thursday, as Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests came to blows, the Times of London reports. Robed priests pummeled each other with brooms and stones in the Church of the Nativity for an hour before police broke up the melee.

Long-standing tensions between Christian groups that jointly administer the church fed into the brawl, which broke out when Greek Orthodox priests set up ladders to clean their part of the church, and Armenian priests claimed the ladders encroached on their section. By the time Palestinian police quelled the violence, five priests and two policemen had been injured.