Two Palestinians were arrested on Wednesday by Palestinian Authority security forces for arson after allegedly burning down a Christmas tree in the Christian-majority town of Zababdeh, near Jenin, in the Shomron. The suspects are being investigated for possible ties with Islamic extremists.
12 Palestinians were arrested by PA security forces in Bethlehem for suspicion of being Islamic extremists.
Palestinian controlled Bethlehem is the focus of the Christmas holiday, however it has been the scene of recent anti-Christian violence. Considered holy by Christians as the birth place of Jesus, the Christian population has dropped from 60% in 1990 to 15% in 2014. In 1995, when Israel gave control of the city to the Palestinian Authority, the Christian population of Bethlehem stood at 20,000. Today, there are 7,500 Christians living in Bethlehem. Christian Arab Father Gabriel Naddaf related to this trend on his Facebook holiday greeting:
“While some contribute the decline to a range of factors, others are now openly speaking of Muslim intimidation towards the Christian community, including land theft, discrimination in public sector employment, abuse, and economic hardships.”
“These are facts that continue to be ignored by the majority of the mainstream media. While Palestinians are been portrayed as victims, even when they commit acts of violence or terrorism, little attention is given to the Christian community who has refused to engage in such acts. It seems that terrorism is only rewarded by the media, not kindness and forgiveness.”
“But, no matter how blind the world is, the fact remains that Israel is the only place in the Middle East where Christians are not persecuted and their population has increased, rather than decrease as in all other Islamic nations. The numbers do not lie.”
“So, we thank God for this safe haven and for being part of this miracle. Israel was created so that it can flourish.”
In September, the St. Charbal Church was burned down. The PA claimed it was due to an electrical malfunction, though Father Naddaf insisted it was Palestinian extremists. Father Nadaff wrote on his Facebook page:
“I condemn with all my heart the laxness of the Palestinian Authority in protecting Christian holy places it controls. I also hope that all the Christian leaders who demonstrated when the Church of Bread and Fishes near Tiberias was burned down will also demonstrate against this terrible act.”