Canton Repository

April 5, 2002

Escalating violence prompts Rep. Ney to put heat on Israel 

Copley News Service 

WASHINGTON — Reacting to damage to a holy site in Bethlehem, Rep. Bob Ney, R-St. Clairsville, on Thursday called on Israel to end its “appalling wave of violence.”

In a letter sent Thursday to David Ivry, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, the congressman said the international community needs to step up pressure on the warring parties.

Israel is in the seventh day of a military offensive that its leaders say is aimed at destroying the Palestinians’ terrorist infrastructure following a rash of suicide bombings by Palestinian extremists.

Ney sent his letter after President Bush on Thursday morning announced he was sending Secretary of State Colin Powell to the Middle East next week to work toward a cease-fire.

In his letter, Ney said the “fact that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is continuing this appalling wave of violence, which has moved to the birthplace of Christ, is especially disturbing and is appalling to people of all faiths.”

Ney’s letter was provoked by Israel’s actions at a Bethlehem church, which marks the reputed birthplace of Jesus Christ, a Ney spokesman said. Israeli troops surrounded the Church of the Nativity, in the Palestinian-occupied West Bank, in an attempt to force the surrender of gunmen and terrorists thought to be hiding inside.

Ney said it was “unsettling to learn one Israeli soldier blew the door off the (church), the same church where Jesus Christ was born.” While criticizing suicide bombers for killing innocent Israelis, Ney pressed for Sharon to “exercise constraint and caution before further retaliation could instigate the massacre of hundreds of innocent civilians.”

Attempts to interview Reps. Ralph Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, Tom Sawyer, D-Akron, and Sherrod Brown, D-Lorain, were unsuccessful.