PA Maltreatment of Christians
Israeli government report titled:
“The Palestinian Authority’s Treatment of Christians in the Autonomous Areas
30 October, 1997
The Takeover of Bethlehem
On taking control over Bethlehem in December 1995, the Palestinian
Authority changed the rules for Christians. The Church of the
Nativity and other sites of central importance to Christianity came
under Palestinian Authority control, giving Yasser Arafat leverage
over the heads of the Christian communities. Since then, the local
Christian leadership has toed the line of the Palestinian
The Latin patriarch, Greek Archbishop, Anglican bishop and Lutheran
bishop are all Palestinian Arabs. They have become effective
propaganda mouthpieces throughout the Christian world.
An example of Arafat’s attitude toward the Christians was his
decision to unilaterally turn the Greek Orthodox monastery near the
Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem into his domicile during his
periodic visits to the city. This was done without prior consent of
Treatment of Christians by the Palestinian Authority
On the social and religious level, the Christians remaining in
Palestinian Authority controlled areas are subjected to relentless
persecution. Christian cemeteries have been destroyed, monasteries
have had their telephone lines cut, and there have been break-ins
to convents. Nuns are afraid to report such incidents.
In August 1997, Palestinian policemen in Beit Sahur opened fire on
a crowd of Christian Arabs, wounding six. The Palestinian Authority
is attempting to cover up the incident and has warned against
publicizing the story. The local commander of the Palestinian
police instructed journalists not to report on the incident.
Palestinian security forces have targeted and intimidated Christian
leaders and Palestinian converts to Christianity. Recent incidents
of persecution of include the following:
In late June 1997, a Palestinian convert to Christianity in the
northern West Bank was arrested by agents of the Palestinian
Authority’s Preventive Security Service. He had been regularly
attending church and prayer meetings and was distributing Bibles.
The Palestinian Authority ordered his arrest. He is still being
held in a Palestinian prison and has been subjected to physical
torture and interrogations.
The pastor of a church in Ramallah was recently warned by
Palestinian Authority security agents that they were monitoring his
evangelistic activities in the area and wanted him to come in for
questioning for spreading Christianity.
A Palestinian convert to Christianity living in a village near
Nablus was recently arrested by the Palestinian police. A Muslim
preacher was brought in by the police, and he attempted to convince
the convert to return to Islam. When the convert refused, he was
brought before a Palestinian court and sentenced to prison for
insulting the religious leader. He is currently being held in a
prison cell with more than 30 people, most serving life sentences
A Palestinian convert to Christianity in Ramallah was recently
visited by Palestinian policemen at his home and warned that if he
continued to preach Christianity, he would be arrested and charged
with being an Israeli spy.
As a result of unceasing persecution, the Christians are forced to
behave like any oppressed minority which aims to survive.
Christians in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas have taken to
praying in secret. The wisdom of survival compels them to assess
the “balance of fear”, according to which they have nothing to fear
from Israel but face an existential threat from the Palestinian
Authority and their Muslim neighbors. They act accordingly: they
seek to “find favor” through unending praise and adulation for the
Muslim ruler together with public denunciations of the “Zionist
Emigration of Christians from Palestinian Authority territory
In the last census conducted by the British mandatory authorities
in 1947, there were 28,000 Christians in Jerusalem. The census
conducted by Israel in 1967 (after the Six Day War) showed just
11,000 Christians remaining in the city. This means that some
17,000 Christians (or 61%) left during the days of King Hussein’s
rule over Jerusalem. Their place was filled by Muslim Arabs from
During the British mandate period, Bethlehem had a Christian
majority of 80%. Today, under Palestinian rule, it has a Muslim
majority of 80%.
Few Christians remain in the Palestinian-controlled parts of the
West Bank. Those who can – emigrate, and there will soon be
virtually no Christians in the Palestinian Authority controlled
areas. The Palestinian Authority is trying to conceal the fact of
massive Christian emigration from areas under its control.