Since October 7, Israeli forces have been carrying out atrocities in Gaza, until now Israel and its allies want to be known as the ‘war on terror’. They directly compared Hamas to the terrorist group IS. But it has become as clear as day in the past two and a half months that the terrorists in Gaza are not the only targets of Israel’s attacks. They are killing ordinary Palestinians indiscriminately. Among the dead in the Israeli attack are not only Muslims, but also many Palestinian Christians. Legal experts say Israeli atrocities in Gaza can only be compared to ‘genocide’.
So far, 21 Palestinian Christians are reported to have been killed in Israeli attacks. The number may seem too small to you. But in Gaza, where the total number of Christians is 1,000, the death of 21 is undoubtedly a big event. Proportionally speaking, the death rate of Palestinian Christians is double that of the total Palestinian population of Gaza. As a result, Christians who have lived in Gaza for almost 200 years are afraid to leave Gaza.
But what is remarkable is that there is no concern among the leaders of the Christian majority countries of the West about the Palestinian Christians. They are surprisingly silent on the plight of Palestinian Christians. US President Joe Biden is a devout Catholic. But he has so far not spoken two words, far from doing anything to protect Gaza’s Catholics.
Many analysts say that Biden’s silence is normal. Because America has been supporting the apartheid Jewish state of Israel for decades. They are essentially the ones who indirectly gave Israel the license to evict Palestinian Christians from the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian Christians have been attacked in the past
Israel now says its objective is to eliminate Hamas and to achieve that objective it is waging war in Gaza. But history tells us that long before Hamas was born, Israelis attacked Palestinian Christians in Gaza. It was in 1948 during Nakba. At that time, the Israeli forces attacked all Palestinians, regardless of whether they were Muslims or Christians. They burned village after village, city after city. The Palestinian Christians were forcibly expelled from Lydda (now called Lod by the Israelis). They somehow took refuge in Ramallah by walking several kilometers for their lives.
All Palestinians regardless of race and religion were expelled from Jerusalem and other areas. My father, uncle and grandmother also ran away. An aunt of mine sought refuge with her family at Notre Dame Catholic Chapel to save her life. Thought they would be safe there. But proving him wrong, a Jewish sniper shot and killed my uncle. My aunt became a helpless widow with seven small children.
Even after the establishment of Israel as a state, their violence did not stop. An example is the residents of Ikrit and Biram villages. These two villages, located in northern Israel, were predominantly Christian. After the Arab-Israeli war, the Christians of these two villages were forcibly expelled in November 1948. They were then told that they would be able to return there after only two weeks. But the Israeli government never allowed them to enter the village again.
Adlah, a non-governmental research organization, said it found at least 65 racist Israeli laws that discriminate against Palestinians. That is, Palestinian citizens (regardless of Muslim-Christian) do not have the same rights as Jewish citizens of Israel.
There is a 1950 Law of Return, which gives Jews the right to return to Israel, settle and automatically obtain citizenship. But Palestinians do not have this right. However, UN Resolution 194 requires Palestinians to return to their homeland and compensate for their destroyed homes.
Israeli Jews have been persecuting Palestinian Christians for a long time. Recently there has been an increase in Jews harassing and intimidating Palestinian Christians, spitting on them, attacking Christian processions, attacking churches and Christian cemeteries.
Just last October, a group of Israeli Jews attacked a Christian procession carrying a cross days before the Hamas attack in southern Israel. When a video of this incident spread on social media, there was a storm of condemnation around the world. But Western leaders were surprisingly silent. Despite repeated pleas to Christian church leaders to take action against Jewish Israeli violence, they remain silent.
The unexplained silence of Western Christians
Israeli forces bombed the Christian-run Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza on October 17, just a few days after the renewed war in Gaza. Killed hundreds of helpless people. Just two days later, Israeli forces bombed a church near Saint Porphyrius, the third oldest church in the world, killing 18 people.
On December 16 of this month, Israeli snipers shot and killed two Palestinian Christian women who took refuge in the Holy Family Catholic Church in Gaza City.
The war has been going on in Gaza for the past 80 days. Palestinian Christians trapped there have repeatedly appealed to world Christian leaders to consider their plight. A Palestinian Catholic mother wrote a letter to President Biden. There he said, ‘Dear President, we are also children of God. We live in Palestine, the holy land where the message of love, peace and justice began. Please stop this massacre.’
Palestinian Christian community leaders also sent an open letter to Western church leaders and theologians. In the letter they called on Western church leaders to repent of their support for Israel.
Crying in the forest
But regrettably, all their calls, appeals, requests have turned into cries in the forest. Western Christian leaders are not paying attention to this at all. America has repeatedly vetoed cease-fire resolutions in the UN Security Council. On the contrary, it has paved the way for Israel to carry out genocide in Gaza.
They will never forget what Biden and other Western leaders are doing to Palestinian Christians. Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, passed ‘Christmas’ without any celebration. The memory of this sad and painful Christmas will never be erased from the minds of Palestinian Christians.
In this dark time of barbarism, while Western Christian leaders are deaf, the only light of Assyria is that Christian and Muslim Palestinians stand as a united front. Israel has long oppressed the Palestinians under the policy of ‘divide and rule’. But in the past two and a half months, Palestinian Christians and Muslims have shown that their ‘unity’ against Israeli apartheid and brutality is much stronger.
Daud Khattab: Award-winning Palestinian journalist
Article from Al Jazeera. Translated from English Maruf Islam