Cedar Duaybis, a grandmother of five, al ways swore that she would never flee again. In 1948, when Duaybis was a child, her Palestinian Christian family fled the Mediterranean city of Haifa amid fighting between Arab forces and the newly declared state of Israel, winding up as refugees in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

But recently Duaybis fled again as Israeli helicopter gunships were poised to attack the Ramallah headquarters of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, just 100 yards from her home. Before this reprisal for the Palestinian killing of two Israeli reserve soldiers began, she grabbed her granddaughter and a number of her friends and ran to Ramallah's Anglican Church compound to spend the night.

"The thing I think about most is the children," said Duaybis, the widow of an Anglican priest.

"I remember how I was so scared and frightened in 1948, and no adult had time to explain what was going on. Now I have a grandchild, and she is going through the same thing."

The West Bank's tiny Palestinian Christian community of 45,000 people, including avid proponents of the peace process, has become deeply embroiled in the current disturbances, which are striking dangerously close to home. Most of the West Bank's Christians are concentrated in Ramallah, Arab east Jerusalem, and the Bethlehem district—flash points in the current unrest.

The Bethlehem suburb of Beit Jallah has been drawn deeply into the chaos. Palestinian snipers have used this border village as a staging ground for attacks on Gilo, an outer Jerusalem suburb built on land taken from Palestinians in the 1967 war.

In one of the worst incidents so far, snipers fired for several hours onto Gilo, drawing repeated Israeli retaliatory raids from helicopter gunships. The ...

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