A Sunday morning bomb badly damaged Gaza's only Christian bookstore, operated by the Palestinian Bible Society.
The bomb, which exploded at approximately 2:30 a.m. Sunday, caused no injuries but destroyed much of the downstairs storefront of The Teacher's Bookshop in downtown Gaza City.
Damage exceeded that of the two small pipe bombs that unknown terrorists detonated in front of the shop February 3, 2006, destroying its steel and glass doors. Following that attack, the Christian bookshop's workers found a communique demanding the shop close immediately and not reopen elsewhere; however, the Bible Society reopened it five weeks later.
Labib Madanat, executive director of the Palestinian Bible Society, told Christianity Today Sunday afternoon after visiting Gaza that the attack came without warning. Gazan authorities had no confirmation of who was responsible; however, a small group called "The Sword of Islam" has carried out similar bombings of internet cafes.
At midnight Sunday, masked gunmen in two cars parked in front of the bookshop and kidnapped its lone security guard, Madanat said. The gunmen drove the guard to a remote northern Gaza location and beat him, demanding the bookshop key. After a search confirmed the guard had no key, they left him, returned to the shop, and there detonated the bomb, which Madanat said could be heard some three miles away.
Madanat had no further information on the guard's condition but said that police were interrogating him.
Officials from the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Culture visited the bookshop with a letter to affirm the government's support for the Bible Society. "They called it an act of darkness, which it truly is," Madanat said. "They pleaded with us not to give up and to increase our work in Gaza."
Madanat reaffirmed the Bible Society team's commitment to reopening the shop. When television crews reported the terrorist act, "We sent a message to the people of Gaza that we're continuing our ministry," he said. "We will not give up. We sent a message of forgiveness to the people who attacked us."
A Christian worker in Gaza who asked not to be identified said the attacks were typical of what's happening in Gaza: "No authority, no government there's no rule of law. These little groups act with impunity.
"There's always good that can come out of this," he said, adding, "It's hard to be optimistic in Gaza."
In addition to selling Bibles and Christian books, the Teacher's Bookshop, opened in 1998, offers public computer classes, an internet café, and other educational opportunities to Gaza's approximately 1.4 million people, many of whom are jobless and destitute. The Palestinian Bible Society's Gaza ministry includes relief work in Gaza's refugee camps and community health, microenterprise, and development projects. Suhad Salsa Massad, wife of Gaza Baptist Church pastor Hanna Massad, directs the ministry.
Copyright © 2007 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
Other recent news from Israel and Gaza includes:
News Briefs | Medi-Share, British Airways' jewelry policy, and Gaza Baptist Church. (March 20, 2007)
Fatah Police Seize Gaza Baptist Church | As cease-fire agreements between Fatah and Hamas come and go, a church is literally caught in the middle. (February 7, 2007)
The Middle East's Death Wishand Ours | We say "everyone wants peace," but we also want to see our enemies destroyed. (David P. Gushee, July 14, 2006)
Christian Zionists Split Over Gaza Pullout | Some remain politically neutral. (Deann Alford, July 2005)
Love in the Land of Enmity | The local joke is that Gaza is hell. But that doesn't seem to deter ministry there. (Deann Alford, July 2005)
Outreach to Despair | Christians minister to the hopeless in Gaza. (Deann Alford, August 1, 2004)
Other news articles include:
Gaza Bible Society Bombed | The Gaza branch of the Palestinian Bible Society, known as the Teacher's Bookshop and Community Center, sustained heavy damage from a large bomb placed at its door early Sunday morning. (CBN News - Jerusalem Bureau)
Gaza: Explosions rock bookstore, cafes | Three explosions rocked Gaza City early Sunday, damaging two Internet cafes and a Christian bookstore. (Associated Press)