Muslim attacks against Christians on the rise in West Bank

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RAMALLAH — The Palestinian Authority, under heavy pressure from the
European Union and United States, has sought to defuse Muslim threats
against Christians in the West Bank.

Palestinian sources said PA security forces have been called to stop
Muslim attacks on Christians in several communities in the West Bank. They
said attacks have been reported on Christian villages or neighborhoods by
hostile Muslim elements.

A Palestinian Authority security officer outside of the Entry of Humility at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

“There is a growing perception by young Muslims that Christians are
agents of Israel and the West and must be expelled,” a Palestinian source said.

In mid-May, nearly 100 Muslims attacked the Christian village of Taibeh in the West Bank. The sources said the Muslim assailants arrived in Taibeh with pistols and clubs after rumors spread that a Muslim was attacked in the village, with a population of fewer than 2,000.

“Palestinian Authority policemen who rushed to the village had to shoot into the air to drive back the Muslim attackers and prevent a slaughter,” Hisham Jarallah. a Palestinian analyst and journalist, said.

Taibeh, many of whose Christians emigrated to the West, was said to be surrounded by hostile Muslim villages. Jarallah said Christians were in
constant fear of Muslim attacks, the latest of which was sparked by an
attempt by a Muslim man to force his way into a girl’s school in Taibeh.

Hours later, the Muslim returned with scores of armed men to take revenge.

“Were it not for the quick intervention of the Palestinian security
forces, the attackers would have set fire to a number of houses and vehicles
and probably killed or wounded some Christians,” Jarallah said.

Sectarian tension has also been reported in mixed cities, including
Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Nablus. The sources said Hamas has come to dominate
long-time Christian and other non-Muslim communities and neighborhoods.

The Taibeh attack was not reported in the PA-controlled media and was
ignored by the West. The sources said PA police commanders demanded that
Christian leaders in Taibeh issue a formal apology for insulting the Muslim
intruder. Christian leaders complied.

In 2005, Taibeh was attacked by hundreds of Muslims who torched houses
and cars. That assault stemmed from rumors that a Christian from Taibeh was
having an affair with a 30-year-old Muslim woman, later killed by her

“The next time anyone wants to learn about the true problems facing the
Christians of the Holy Land, he or she should head to Taibeh and conduct off
the record and private interviews with the villagers,” Jarallah said.

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