Gaza's Few Christians Are Fleeing

After murder, religious minority fearful under Hamas rule
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 24, 2007 7:16 AM CST
Palestinian mourners gather around the body of Rami Khader Ayyad in a church during his funeral in Gaza City, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2007. Unknown assailants killed Khader, a Christian activist, and dumped his...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – It's a grim Christmas for Gaza's tiny Christian population of about 3,000, with celebrations muted in the Hamas-controlled territory, the AP says. Instead of decorating trees, many of the faithful are packing to leave the strip for good. After the murder of a prominent Baptist activist, many Christians say the area has become hostile to their faith.

“We have a very sad Christmas,” lamented one pastor. Hamas has vowed to prosecute the killer of Rami Ayyad, who managed Gaza’s only Christian bookstore and was targeted for his perceived missionary work. Community leaders say religious tensions and Israel’s economic sanctions are causing masses of Christian families to flee Gaza. “We fear what is to come,” said one refugee.