Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

"Gaza Christians annul Xmas celebrations to protest blockade (Extra)," Monsters and Critics, December 24, 2008.

Gaza - Palestinian Christians living in the Hamas-ruled Gaza will not celebrate Christmas this year and will not perform the midnight Christmas mass, Gaza Latin Church pastor Manuel Musalam said Wednesday.

In a statement sent to the media, he said the decision was to protest Israel's blockade on the Gaza Strip and to protest what he said were Israeli threats to invade the salient.

Around 4,000 Christians live in the Gaza Strip. Most of them are adherents of the Greek Orthodox Church, but a few follow the Latin church and celebrate Christmas on December 24-25.

Sources inside the Strip said that 800 Christians applied to Israel for permission to travel to the West Bank city of Bethlehem to attend midnight mass on Wednesday, but only 280 received a permit.

'Annulling the Christmas mass prayers at midnight in Gaza came also to protest the Israeli decision not to give permission to Gaza Christians to go to Bethlehem,' Musalam said.

He called on Christians and Moslems to gather at the Holy Family School, run by his church, to attend a silent mass, instead of praying at the Church.

Israel has kept the Gaza crossings shut since Friday, when the expiration of a six-month truce led to an upsurge in rockets attacks from the salient.

On Wednesday, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak reversed a decision to open the crossings, after militants in the Strip showered southern Israel with rockets, to protest Israel's killing of three Hamas militants Tuesday night. Israel said the three were trying to plant a bomb by the Gaza-Israel border fence when spotted.

Deutsche Press-Agentur
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