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Thursday, December 18, 2003

Remember the Church of Nativity Deportees?

One arrested for major theft in Belgium
Haaretz: LONDON - One of the 13 Palestinians deported from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in May 2002 was arrested Tuesday in Belgium on suspicion of participating in a number of robberies in which more than $250,000 were stolen. Khalil Mohammed Abdullah al-Nawara received asylum in Belgium following the siege on the church.

The Belgian daily, Le Soir, reported that large security forces had conducted searches in 44 locations in the Brussels area, arresting seven individuals, including al-Nawara, on suspicion of using explosives to rob post offices of more than 215,000 euro.

Al-Nawara, a former resident of Bethlehem and a member of the Tanzim militia, was involved in the past in incidents of shooting at Israeli cars on the Tunnel Road, as well as the murder of Israeli citizens. His asylum in Belgium included financial assistance and housing. He was initially under guard by Belgian security forces, but this was later lifted after he was deemed not to be a threat to public security.

The affair has stirred unrest and embarrassment in Belgium.