Palestinian Christians live in constant fear
This article describes the sufferings of Christians in Gaza and how the media has turned blind eye to their ordeal.
Father Raymond J. De Souza
Tuesday, February 19, 2008 Palestine (National Post)-Here with an item from last week’s news that you might not have heard about: Unidentified gunmen blew up the YMCA library in the Gaza Strip on Friday morning. While no one was hurt, two guards were temporarily kidnapped while the offices were looted, a vehicle stolen and all 8,000 books destroyed. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, although Fatah accused Hamas of being behind it. Hamas, for its part, strongly denied any responsibility and condemned the attack. Meanwhile, confidential sources in Gaza told the Jerusalem Post that the attack was in response to the reprinting of the Muhammad cartoons in Danish newspapers last week.
The supposed motivation for the attack, and the fact that it was not big news, illustrates the dire situation faced by many Christians living in the Palestinian territories.
There are only some 3,500 Christians, mostly Greek Orthodox, in Gaza . Over the past two years, al-Qaeda-affiliated groups have claimed responsibility for attacks against Christian figures and institutions with the stated goal of driving Christians out of Gaza .
If indeed the attack on the YMCA was motivated by the latest wave of violence in Denmark over the cartoon controversy, it shows how precarious the Christian position is. The Young Men’s Christian Association in Gaza is open to Muslims and includes a school, sports club and community hall. It is not a centre of Christian proselytism. But if events in Denmark which have nothing to do with Christianity can produce anti-Christian violence in Gaza , then it is clear that there is nothing Christians can do to avoid such violence.
The problem is not their behaviour but, in the eyes of the violent Islamist jihadists, their very presence. They must simply live in hope that some faraway event does not inflame the anti-Christian wrath of their neighbours. Is it any wonder that Christians in such situations desire to emigrate? Could anyone judge harshly the few thousand Christians in Gaza if they were to leave entirely?
And so it goes — news trickles out about one outrage or another, but it gets lost if it gets noticed at all. Meanwhile, Christians in Gaza and the West Bank try to live quietly, never knowing whether a newspaper in Denmark or a papal speech in Germany or nothing in particular might be the pretext for violence coming to their doors.