History of Assaults on Christian and Jewish Holy Sites by the Palestinian Authority

Abraham’s Oak Russian “Holy Trinity” Monastery – located in the Palestinian-controlled part of Hebron, the monastery belonged to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. On July 5, 1997, Palestinian policemen arrived at the monastery, physically removed the monks and nuns, and took over the site. Several of the monks and nuns required hospitalization.

Rachel’s Tomb – The Tomb, located on the outskirts of Bethlehem, is the burial site of the Biblical matriarch Rachel and is under Israeli control. During the September 1996 riots, Palestinian mobs assaulted the site and hurled rocks and firebombs at it, causing damage to the outer part of the structure. Palestinian policemen on the scene shot and wounded Israeli soldiers guarding the Tomb. Today, Rachel’s Tomb is again a major target for Palestinian attacks.

Joseph’s Tomb– During the September 1996 riots, a Palestinian mob led by Palestinian policemen assaulted the Tomb. Palestinian security agents opened fire on Israeli troops at the site, killing 6 Israeli soldiers. After the Israeli forces temporarily withdrew, the Palestinian mob entered the site and set fire to it. They burned the Jewish prayer books, Bibles and religious articles inside the structure and caused extensive damage. In October 2000, Palestinian mobs once again attacked, killed one Israeli soldier, and destroyed the building. Palestinian forces again took part.

Church of St. Nicholas, Beit Jalla – During the October and November 2000 hostilities, Fatah gunmen – members of the “Tansim” fired on the Jewish neighborhood of Gilo from areas adjacent to churches in Beit Jalla. “The positions chosen by the Tansim are near to churches in Beit Jalla, most notably the Church of St. Nicholas, hoping that Israel’s return fire will hit a church,” reported a Christian cleric. “Then it will be front-page news for the ‘Christian West,’ that Israel is now destroying churches.”

Jericho Monastery – In January 2000, Palestinian police evicted five “White Russian” monks from their 19th-century monastery in the West Bank town of Jericho, handing the property over to the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Destroyed Christian Communities and Sites in Lebanon – During the seven-year Lebanese civil war (1975-1982) Christian communities in Lebanon were targets for the reign of terror of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Palestinian Authority’s predecessor. Christian villagers were massacred, churches destroyed, and cemeteries desecrated. The town of Damour, 10 miles south of Beirut, was particularly hard hit. Hundreds of Damour residents were reportedly massacred.

The massacre of 586 Damour Christians by the PLO on January 23, 1976 was described by an eyewitness, Maronite Father Mansour Labaky: “The attack took place from the mountain behind. It was an apocalypse. They were coming, thousands and thousands, shouting ‘Allahu Akbar! God is great! Let us attack them for the Arabs, let us offer a holocaust to Mohammed! And they were slaughtering everyone in their path, men, women and children.”
Six years later the following reports from the remains of Damour were typical:

The New York Times, June 21 1982, by David Shipler: “For nearly seven years, until the Israeli army attacked and captured [the Christian town of Damour] last week, the town was inaccessible to its own people; the Palestine Liberation Organization made it a stronghold, using the churches as firing ranges and armories… Where a cross would have hung [inside a church] a triangular PLO symbol is painted in the Palestinian nationalist colors… High in the belfry, a concreted cross has obviously been used as a target over the years, for it is chipped and gouged in a thousand places.”

The Washington Post, July 7, 1982, by William Braning: “The wall of the church where the cross once hung is pock-marked by bullets. Below where the altar once stood, lies a pile of greasy engine casings and spare parts. Oil stains spot the floor of the church, which evidently had been turned into a garage. In another part of town, the large St. Elias Church is in similar disarray.”

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