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02/05/2022 Gaza (International Christian Concern) – In an effort to boost domestic tourism, a fifth-century Byzantine church in northern Gaza was renovated into a museum. The director-general of antiquities at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said, “Restoration of Christian and Islamic archaeological sites encourages local and foreign visitors alike to visit the Gaza Strip,” and yet, the Ministry stressed that the historic church is open only as a museum and not a place of worship with guards to ensure its protection.

The ancient church is located in Jabaliya refugee camp and was discovered in 1988 mistakenly as the site was buried in the sand over time and climate impacts. Jamal Abu Rida, the director-general of antiquities, commented that the church is believed to be along the ancient trade route along the Levant and is the only church in the Middle East with 17 scripts in Old Greek inscribed on the mosaic floors.

The renovation is part of the Intiqal 2030 program that aims to renovate historic sites, including the Saint Hilarion Monastery (Tell Um Amer) which is on the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list.

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