Palestinian police seized Baptist church during Gaza fighting

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 |  by Staff Writer

Behind the crocodile tears Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas shed after Hamas militants sacked a Catholic compound in Gaza City lies the fact that his own men similarly abused and endangered local Christians at the height of last week's civil war.

As Hamas forces advanced through Gaza City, members of the Palestinian Authority security forces loyal to Abbas demanded entrance to the Gaza Baptist Church, the only Evangelical church in the coastal strip, in order to use the place of worship as a lookout post.

Pastor Hanna Massad told the Associated Baptist Press that when he refused to open the gates, the officers forced their way in and seized control of the church. He later found that Abbas' men had stolen about $4,000 worth of computers and other electronic equipment.

International law enshrined in the Geneva Conventions forbids the use of religious sites and places of worship as military positions during an armed conflict, a stipulation that is regularly ignored in the Muslim Middle East.

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