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Christian leaders: PA must investigate church attacks

Two churches in the West Bank have been attacked, vandalized and robbed in the last week and Christian Palestinians said they feel targeted and unsafe.

A senior Palestinian Authority security official said they are investigating the “robberies” in Ramallah and Bethlehem, but some Christians are worried that the PA security forces are not doing enough to protect Christian holy sites in the West Bank.

“We feel we’re being deliberately targeted because we’re Christians,” a Christian woman from Aboud told The Jerusalem Post. “When you see two attacks on a church and monastery in one week, this makes you wonder whether there’s some kind of a scheme against Christians.”

Crimes against Christians often go unpunished in the Palestinian Authority.

The Holy Land Church organization released photos that show damaged furniture and smashed windows inside the Church of God.

“We pray in solidarity with this church and for the repentance of the aggressors,” the Holy Land Church organization said in its statement. “We also call on the responsible authorities to lay their hands on the perpetrators and bring them to justice as soon as possible.”

Abdallah Khoury, pastor of the church near Ramallah, said this was a serious matter and called on the PA to take necessary measures to find the criminals and bring them to justice.

“The attack on the church and the stealing of its contents is very dangerous,” he said.

Some Palestinian Christians are so anti-Israel and intimidated by the PA, that they are silent on these issues, and instead seek the favor of the larger Muslim community.

The Saint Charbel Monastery in Bethlehem was also attacked. Perpetrators cut the fence surrounding the monastery and robbed the church taking expensive equipment and surveillance cameras among other items.

The council, affiliated with the Lebanese Maronite Order, noted that this was the sixth time that this monastery has been subjected to sabotage and robbery over the past few years. A fire in 2015 caused extensive damage. The PA ruled that the fire was caused by an “electrical fault,” but some Christians claim that the fire was an “arson attack” by radical Muslims.

Though Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, was once known for its majority Christian population, Christian residents have left in droves over the past few decades due to Muslim persecution and repressive Palestinian rule. Once 80 percent Christian, the numbers have reversed completely to 80 percent Muslim and only 20 percent Christian.

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