Written by: International Christian Concern
Article source: www.persecution.org

Gaza’s beleaguered Christian community has recently seen several families leave the territory to transit through Egypt to seek a new life elsewhere.

After more than six months of war, tens of thousands of people are dead, and satellite images reveal 35% of Gaza’s buildings have been destroyed. Watchdogs have declared several districts at risk of famine. 

Since their homes and livelihoods are gone, many Christians have found refuge in the strip’s two standing church buildings. They are faced with the dilemma of staying and helping others rebuild or leaving to join relatives abroad and start a new life elsewhere. For now, many are deciding to leave. Estimates from International Christian Concern’s sources show that somewhere between a quarter and a half of Gaza’s pre-war Christian population of 900 to 1,000 Christians has left, with another quarter applying and registering to leave. 

The journey out of Gaza is not an easy one. One 18-year-old Christian woman died this week from sunstroke and exhaustion while traveling to the border. Many Christians are fearful of staying in the border town of Rafah in the territory’s Muslim-dominated south as a religious minority, as well as the ongoing threat of being caught in the crossfire of a possible Israeli military operation in the region. 

Although Christians are leaving Gaza in large numbers because of the war, they were already leaving the region before the conflict started. Christians started leaving Gaza in 2007 following a wave of persecution that included the murder of Rami, a Christian bookstore manager.

The pressures of the Israeli blockade on Gaza, a series of Hamas-Israel conflicts during the past two decades, and internal Palestinian political turmoil in the strip have also helped accelerate the departure of Christians from Gaza. If this current trend continues, some fear Gaza’s nearly 2,000-year-old Christian community could disappear completely.

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Date published: 03/06/2024

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