This fall, Georgette Khoury and her family celebrated the return of the Bethlehem Inn from the Israeli army.
The Khourys, Palestinian Lutherans, invested thousands in turning their restaurant into a six-story hotel, hoping Christian pilgrims would come for the millennium celebrations (April 2001, page 50). That hope faded in 2000 when the Israeli army occupied the hotel as a guard post during the second intifada (uprising). Georgette's husband, Samir, who died in January 2004, spent most of his time and more than $20,000 in legal costs in demanding the hotel's return.
In a Sept. 14 news story (www.bethlehemmedia.net), Omar Tesdell wrote that the Khourys won a lawsuit for the hotel's return. Now they are asking the military to pay an estimated $2 million in damages: destroyed electrical and phone systems, floors soaked with fuel, walls and ceilings charred and marked with obscene graffiti, a blown-up elevator and hotel safe, and missing items that include a 250-year-old chandelier.Fearing a rebuilding permit won't be granted, the Khoury family sees renovation as the only option. Outside the hotel a banner says: "Stay Tuned for the Reopening."
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