Gaza’s Christians “under threat of extinction”
As Israel continues to attack the Gaza strip, Palestinian Christians in the area fear they may be altogether wiped out.
Mitri Raheb is an Evangelical Lutheran pastor and founder of Dar al-Kalima University in Bethlehem. He recently told Al Jazeera that the Israel/Hamas conflict may spell the end of Christianity’s history with the area.
“This community is under threat of extinction,” he said.
“I’m not sure if they will survive the Israeli bombing, and even if they survive, I think many of them will want to emigrate.”
“We know that within this generation, Christianity will cease to exist in Gaza.”
Gaza is home to between 800 and 1000 Christians. Belonging to several different denominations, they constitute the world’s oldest Christian community, dating back to the first century. Most of these people are Greek Orthodox, with smaller numbers worshiping at the Catholic Holy Family Church and the Gaza Baptist Church.
At least 10,569 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza since 7 October.
The latest round of violence began in retaliation to Hamas attacking a music festival, killing at least 260 Israelis, while taking others hostage. The attack is believed to be the worst civilian massacre in Israeli history.
Gaza is a small strip of land approximately 41 kilometres long and six to 12 kilometres wide, is home to a population of about two million people. The area has been under the control of Hamas since 2006, and the Israeli government has imposed a land, sea, and air blockade on the area, rendering it an ‘open-air prison.’
The United Nations’ Relief Agency is providing aid to people affected by bombings in Gaza. To donate, visit the appeal website here.