The Fatah terrorists who were expelled to Europe in 2002 after taking over a church, holding priests hostage and shooting at IDF soldiers, want to return.

The deported terrorists have written a letter to PA chief Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), saying that now that direct talks with Israel will be resuming, they want the topic of their deportation to be reconsidered. They also want PA help in facilitating their relatives’ ability to visit them.

In April 2002, at the beginning of the IDF’s successful counter-terrorism Operation Defensive Shield, close to 200 Palestinian terrorists who were engaged in warfare with Israel took over and found refuge in the famous Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. They held some 80 priests hostage, caused extensive to the church and religious objects, and fired at Israeli forces outside. The standoff lasted for five weeks, and after protracted negotiations, 123 terrorists were permitted to leave the area, 26 were sent to Gaza, and 13 were exiled to European countries.

The terrorists’ letter to Abu Mazen contains several discrepancies. They state that they were deported nine years ago, when in fact it was eight years ago, in May 2002. More importantly, they ask for monetary aid, claiming that the deportation agreement stipulates that they not be allowed to work in the countries to which they were expelled.

As reported here, however, "We were promised a normal life, with the right to settle where we wanted in this country - to study and find work," Ibrahim Abayat, one of the three Bethlehem terrorists deported to Spain, told the London-based Telegraph in August 2002. 

The paper also reported in that article that the “lone Palestinian accepted by Belgium had already got a work permit, while three sent to Italy had been given new identities and received a monthly stipend.”