Christians face increased intimidation in Gaza


Samir A. Zedan

This year, Christmas among Palestinians appears to have been a source of unusual animosity towards Christians. The aftereffect of Hamas’s memo about Christians in Gaza and the Christmas celebration was a social media anti-Christmas campaign that culminated with the burning of Christmas trees by Muslims in the city of Sakhnin in northern Israel.

Now this anti-Christian campaign has come to the West Bank, spearheaded by Muslims from East Jerusalem, against the Nabi Musa historic structure, a site which is situated seven miles south of Jericho and twelve miles east of Jerusalem in the Judean wilderness.

A dance party was held in one of the halls of the site, hosted by a renowned Palestinian DJ named Sama Abdul Hadi. Muslims from Jerusalem responded to their discovery of the party by organizing a convoy, drove to the site, and shut it down.

They began by launching an online campaign called “Hey guys, let us drive all to the shrine of the Prophet Moses, the Christians have turned it into a place for prostitution, drugs, and drunkenness.” They thought it was a Christmas celebration.

This Palestinian activist, in this Facebook video, hailed the Islamic movements and Fatah for taking action against the party, but also made it clear that the participants were “Muslims from the West Bank.” At the beginning of the video, he emphasized that they “were not Christians, but rather Muslims.”

In addition, he suggested that “families of the attendees take action against their children who have deviated from Islamic teachings and the national duty towards fighting against the Zionist occupiers.” (As part of the Palestinian discourse, it is always essential to blame Israel in the event that Christians demonstrate their innocence, as in this case.)

The organizers insisted that they had the required permit to hold such a party. Furthermore, the site, which belongs to the Islamic endowments, had been leased to a private Palestinian company to promote tourism. The main goal was to promote the archaeological sites of Palestine, and the ceremony was held outside the mosque with authorization from the [Palestinian] Ministry of Tourism.

This YouTube video shows how the DJ’s equipment was smashed, and the bedroom furniture was thrown into the main yard of the site.

The site is also used as a guesthouse with dozens of rooms, besides a mosque to commemorate Moses and his alleged burial site, as claimed by some Muslims. According to the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses descended Mount Nebo (in Jordan) to see the Land of Canaan, which God had told him he would not enter, before dying in Moab.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh tried to defuse the anger among Palestinians by establishing a committee to investigate what really took place in the site, but asked people to have patience until the results of the investigation are made public. DJ Sama Abdul Hadi, one of the few female DJs among the Palestinians, was arrested on Saturday night.

A Christian activist who goes by the pseudonym “Richard Lion” expressed how Palestinian Christians felt about this incident. “They are sad and angry because Muslims accused Christians. These people were supposedly all Muslims (open-minded Muslims, non-religious) and were being hosted by a famous institution (Al Ard).”

Christian Palestinians, who have been facing serious challenges over being caught between the burgeoning Islamic movements and the inept Palestinian Authority, find themselves embroiled yet again in a dispute, despite the fact that the truth of the matter is totally in their favor.

Palestinian Christian activists have contacted this writer to draw attention to the story and to voice their anger because they feel intimidated by the Palestinian Authority and other terrorist groups. “If this [anti-Christian campaign] persists, the Holy Land will be empty of Christians in the near future,” Richard Lion added.

Samir A. Zedan is a former Senior Counter-Terrorism Analyst at the US Department of State, and a former Development Outreach and Communication Specialist at USAID/Iraq. He has contributed to hundreds of articles published in major media outlets with assignments in the Palestinian areas, Israel, Jordan, Iraq, and Europe.


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