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More on the Murder of Gaza Bookstore Manager
Rami Ayyad’s body found outside Christian bookstore in Palestinian territory.

by Deann Alford

Gaza (Compass Direct News) – Police found Christian leader Rami Ayyad murdered early (Sunday) morning near the Christian bookstore that he managed in the Palestinian territory of Gaza. He had been shot in the head and had multiple stab wounds.

Unknown individuals abducted Ayyad, 30, as he closed The Teacher’s Bookshop at 4:30 p.m. Saturday (October 6). The bookshop is operated by the Palestinian Bible Society, which Muslim extremists have repeatedly threatened.

The Bible Society shop was bombed in April after previous threats, destroying most of the first floor. In February 2006, unidentified militants exploded two small pipe bombs in front of the bookshop, destroying its steel and glass doors.

Hamas-affiliated police found Ayyad’s body, according to news reports. Authorities with Hamas, which rules Gaza , have reportedly vowed to investigate and punish the perpetrators.

A Palestinian Bible Society release stated that on Saturday Ayyad had noticed a car without license plates following him. At 6 p.m., Ayyad told his family by telephone that a group of people had taken him and that he would return home late that evening.

Ayyad called later with a similar message, and a Gaza Bible Society worker reported the incident to police. At 6:25 a.m. yesterday, Ayyad’s body was found near the bookshop with gunshot and stab wounds, the release said.

Ayyad is survived by two children and his pregnant wife, Pauline.

In addition to his work at the bookshop’s front desk, Ayyad served as a youth leader at Gaza Baptist Church . He also directed the church’s summer camp.

“Everybody liked Rami,” a Gaza Christian worker told Compass. “He was just a good-natured guy. He was the most tender-hearted guy, like a teddy bear.”

Tension has mounted among Gaza ’s Christians this year following recurring warfare between rival political factions and threats and attacks on Christians and Christian institutions.

“There’s very little security left for Christians in Gaza ,” the worker said. “They’re in a state of shock. They can’t believe this happened. There are signs that say this is not going to get better.”

The Palestinian Christian community has co-existed “somewhat peacefully” as a minority group for centuries with Muslims in the area, he said.

“This is definitely something new for Palestinian Christians for a young man to be murdered like this,” he said.

Christians in Gaza number around 3,000 in a population of 1.5 million, with most belonging to the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.

During Gaza ’s summer war between rival Fatah and Hamas factions, a projectile crashed through a window in Ayyad’s home. Shrapnel narrowly missed his wife and struck him in the back.

“There was more danger in the hospital than there was at home,” the Christian worker told Compass, so Ayyad left without receiving medical attention. “I don’t think he ever had surgery to remove it.”

David Maria Jaeger, a priest with Israel Franciscan in the Holy Land , told Asia News that Ayyad was an “intrepid Christian, a glory for the entire community of believers in Christ who live in His homeland.”

“The fact that he belonged to the Protestant community underlines that what unites us outstrips what divides us,” Fr. Jaeger told Asia News. “And its not the first time in the region that the Protestant evangelicals enlighten us and teach us to have faith in Christ, free from conditioning, free from fear and a presumptuous ‘prudence,’ which all too often burden so many of us Christians.”