An unholy row erupted between Greek Orthodox and Armenian clergy on Wednesday over the cleaning of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, an AFP correspondent said.
Following Christmas celebrations, dozens of black-clad clerics from both churches, armed with brooms and cleaning materials, began to work on different parts of the church, built over the site where Jesus Christ is believed to have been born.
But an Armenian priest supervising the work thought that a broom held by a Greek Orthodox priest encroached on their space, and angry words swiftly became a fight.
Palestinian policemen at the scene intervened and the priests resumed their cleaning, an AFP correspondent said. A second fight was also quelled.
No one was hurt in the brawl, and police made no arrests.
The Church of the Nativity, like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City, is shared by various branches of Christianity, each of which controls and jealously guards a part of the holy site.
Scuffles often erupt between Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests during joint religious or cleaning ceremonies. In 2007, seven priests were injured in a post-Christmas cleaning fight in the church.
The Church of the Nativity is built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was born in a stable more than 2,000 years ago after Mary and Joseph were turned away at an inn.