Rival Clerics In Brawl At Jesus' Birthplace

A fight has broken out at the church built on the spot where Jesus is said to have been born.

Palestinian police stormed the basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem after rival groups of Orthodox and Armenian clerics clashed in a row over the boundaries of their respective ancient jurisdictions inside the church.

Armed with brooms, around 100 priests and monks came to blows during the cleaning of the church in preparation for Orthodox Christmas celebrations.

The former Palestinian minister of tourism and head of the Palestinian forces in Bethlehem were slightly injured.

Administration of the church is shared by Catholic, Orthodox, and Armenian Apostolic clerics.

The relationship between these groups has often been difficult, and there have been similar scuffles in previous years over jurisdiction.