ICC Note: In understanding statements from Christians in the Palestinian areas readers need to realize that they live in a cage with a tiger. They must be nice to the tiger to not be attacked.
Militants ransack Gaza churches
By: Matt Cresswell Religious Intelligence
June 20, 2007 Gaza . A Group of militants ransacked a Christian complex in the Gaza Strip causing an estimated $500,000 of damage, it has been revealed.
The Roman Catholic community included the Rosary Sisters School and a nearby convent; both have now suffered irreparable damage at the hands of what appears to have been Hamas fighters.
Reports say that the militants broke crosses, burnt prayer books and damaged a statue of Jesus.
The attack took place last Thursday but was only reported this week owing to the chaos in the region.
The doors of the convent were opened by mortars which damaged furniture in the process leaving the building desecrated.
However, the Rev Manuel Musalam, head of Gaza ‘s Latin church, refused to condemn Hamas for the attacks and instead attributed it to a small criminal faction.
He said that the former Hamas minister Bassem Naim had contacted him to say he condemned the attack, the Jerusalem Post reported.
In addition, he said he had also received assurances from Hamas that they would provide protection for Christians living in the Gaza Strip. Father Musalam added that he was not partial to one political group in Palestine : “We don’t distinguish between Fatah and Hamas,” the Christian leader said. “They are all our brothers and fathers and we are one people.”
Fatah officials, however, openly condemned the attack and have communicated this to the wrecked church.
The secularist group have promised that they will do their best to prevent such attacks against Christians in Gaza .
A spokesman for Hamas has denied responsibility but did admit that a considerable group of Hamas militia was near the church at the time of the attack.
However, the Palestinian Authority has also been accused of causing damage to another Christian church in the troubled region.
Pastor Hanna Massad of Gaza Baptist Church said that PA security forces demanded they use his church as a lookout post.
They eventually forced their way in and seized control of his building. Later Mr Massad learned that around $4,000 worth of equipment had been stolen in addition to other electronic equipment.
These latest incidences have frightened many Christians in Gaza and many are predicted to flee once the link road between Israel and Egypt is re-opened.