BETHLEHEM, West Bank, (AFP) - The Israeli army on Friday admitted it shot and wounded an Armenian monk inside the Church of the Nativity it has besieged for 10 days in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.
"This person was not wearing religious clothes and looked armed," an army spokesman explained.
"The Israeli defense forces fired a shot on this figure," which appeared to be threatening the monks inside as well as the soldiers outside the church, one of the holiest sites in Christendom, he added.
The monk was taken to the Hadassah hospital in west Jerusalem in serious condition.
Some 200 armed Palestinians, together with 30 Franciscan friars and some civilians have been encircled by Israeli troops in the church complex since April 2. The Franciscan order on Friday urged Israel to release the Palestinians it has trapped in the Church of Nativity for 10 days and provide water and power to the Franciscan monks trapped with them.
Israel immediately rejected the demands, Vatican news agency Fides said.