Guest / Limited Access /

Five Fatah police officers remain stationed on Gaza Baptist Church's sixth floor as a tense truce has brought at least momentary peace to the tiny strip of coast teetering on the brink of civil war.

Tuesday afternoon, fights between the secular Fatah party and its rival, the militant Islamic party Hamas, flared on Gaza's side of the Egyptian border as Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh passed through Rafah Crossing en route to reconciliation talks.

The 10-minute gun battle not only threatened to shatter the latest cease-fire but also trapped Hani Fazah, a Christian Gazan doctor and fiancé of prominent Gazan evangelical Rana Khoury (see "Love in the Land of Enmity," July 2005) in a bus at Rafah as he tried for a second day to enter Gaza for their imminent wedding.

These are the latest of many violent events since January 2006, when Hamas won a majority of seats in the Palestinian parliamentary elections. Hanna Massad, pastor of Gaza Baptist Church, told Christianity Today that each round of Hamas-Fatah fighting ratchets up the bloodshed and lasts longer than the previous round. On January 28, Gaza Baptist's Awana club bus driver, Wasfi Khardish, 20, was walking down a street when a stray bullet pierced his heart, killing him instantly.

Late on February 2, Palestinian Authority (PA) police officers of Fatah demanded Gaza Baptist's building key from the church's lone guard. The guard, who had no key, informed church leaders, who refused to hand it over. Police then broke into the building, taking up positions on the sixth floor. The pastor was powerless to remove the police, who were using the rooftop as a watch post and sniper nest for fighting Hamas.

Police told Massad that taking over the church, which ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedWhy Muslims Are Becoming the Best Evangelists
Why Muslims Are Becoming the Best Evangelists
Missiologist Dave Garrison documents global surge in Muslims leading Muslims to Christ. He calls it, “Unprecedented.”
TrendingFive Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon
Five Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon
If you want to help people see Holy Week with fresh eyes, start by dropping these familiar fallacies.
Editor's PickThe Uneasy Conscience of a Christian Boxing Trainer
The Uneasy Conscience of a Christian Boxing Trainer
Why it may (or may not) be okay to watch adults beat up on one another.
Leave a Comment

Use your Christianity Today login to leave a comment on this article. Not part of the community? Subscribe now, or register for a free account.

hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

February 2007

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.