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Gaza ’s Baptist Church Released

2007-02-14 Palestine (For the full article, go to Mission Network News)

Gaza ’s Fatah controlled police force has removed all officers stationed in Gaza Baptist Church ‘s building. Hanna Massad, pastor of Gaza ‘s only evangelical church, told Open Doors that the soldiers left following a much celebrated accord between rival factions in Gaza .

Under it, the Palestinian Prime Minister and his Hamas-led cabinet will resign by February 15th to make way for a unity government with the rival Fatah faction. His resignation will pave the way to a new government that he’ll lead, according to the terms of a deal. It’s an effort to end factional warfare in Gaza and ease an economic embargo on the Palestinian Authority.

Open Doors’ Al Janssen says, unlike its eight predecessors, this one has a chance to succeed. “I think the difference is the location where it took place; it was right across the street from the most holy site in Islam, and it was brokered by the king of Saudi Arabia . I think those two things together would make it a lot harder for the leadership to easily break that accord.”

The church finally held morning and evening services on Sunday, Feb. 11. Massad said that damage to the building includes three broken windows, one of them shattered by celebratory fire after Fatah and Hamas announced its latest cease fire, and the church’s door, which police smashed to enter the building.