Christian persecution in Palestinian Authority rampant, population plummets

Another Christian institution in the PA was targeted by vandals, while the number of Christians living in the PA has dropped to an all-time low.


The Anglican Church in the Palestinian Authority (PA) village of Aboud, near Ramallah, was broken into on Thursday and valuable property, including religious artifacts, was stolen.

A resident of Aboud, identified only as I.M., told TPS that the atmosphere in the village is charged and that there appear to be elements who are pushing the generate strife between Christians and Muslims. He estimates that this incident is a religion-based hate crime. He added that that jewelry, computers and other electronic equipment were stolen from the church.

This is the third incident in the past month in which Christians living in the PA were targeted.

The St. Charbel Monastery in Bethlehem was broken into last week, the sixth time to be targeted in recent years. The convent, part of the Lebanese Maronite Church, has been repeatedly targeted, and Father Yacoub Eid, the monastery head, has asked the PA to protect the Christian holy sites.

Attacks on Christians in the PA have recently expanded, and are driven by religion.

Last month, Christian residents of the town of Jifnah in the PA were attacked by Fatah activists and were forced to pay the Muslim Jizyah ransom tax after a local woman complained to the police about the son of a senior Fatah official.

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The violent incident, which included shooting, occurred in an almost exclusively Christian area, situated north of Jerusalem and near Ramallah, the de facto PA capital.

In a notice published on Facebook, the Christian residents of Jifnah complained about the loss of security and of their property, especially after they were forced to pay the Jizyah, as demanded by Islam.

They demanded that the newly-appointed Prime Minister Mohammad Ishtayeh intervene and ensure their safety, and decry the “racist and sectarian” behavior by a “senior official.”

A member of one of the families told TPS that the Fatah members ordered them to pay the Jizyah “so that they could enjoy the PA’s protection” and that the event was caused by religious and sectarian hatred.

The Jizyah is an annual per capita tax levied by Islamic law on non-Muslim subjects residing in Muslim lands. The tax is a fee for protection provided by the Muslim ruler to non-Muslims, for the permission to practice a non-Muslim religion with some communal autonomy in a Muslim state, and as proof of the non-Muslims’ submission to the Muslim state and its laws.

Jizyah has also been understood by some as a ritual humiliation of the non-Muslims in a Muslim state for not converting to Islam.

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The Muslim-Christian Council in Jerusalem recently published a survey that shows that the Christian population in the PA consists of only one percent of the general population. Tens of thousands of Christians have left the PA for other parts of the world following religious persecution they have encountered at home, including the confiscation of Christian land and the assault on young Christian women.

Once a sizable community, the survey’s numbers show that today the community numbers only 45,000 in the PA, with 4,000 living in Jerusalem and only 1,000 living in Gaza.