The murder on Oct. 7 of Rami Ayad, who worked at Gaza’s Bible Society, has persuaded many in the 3,000-strong Christian community they are no longer welcome in Gaza. He had been stabbed several times and shot in the head. The Bible Society is primarily involved in offering charity to Muslim families, but Ayad had nevertheless been threatened several times.
Christians have been in Gaza since the fourth century, but Ayad’s murder follows a series of incidents that has shaken the community’s desire to stay. “Everything has changed. In the times of my father and grandfather, there was no difference between Muslims and Christians,” said Ibrahim Ayad, a brother of the victim. “The Islamic revival has also brought intolerance in its wake.” He estimated that 70% of the Christian community would leave when they had the opportunity. He said many Muslims perceived Christians as “kaffirs,” or unbelievers, which meant they were not subject to the same laws as Muslims.