Militant group Hamas has rejected the latest cease-fire proposal with Israel pushed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and insisted that the only way for truce to be achieved is if the Israeli-Egyptian blockade on Gaza is lifted.
"When it comes to the balance of power in this crisis between us and Israel, they are the executioners, the aggressors, the occupiers, the settlers, and we are the true owners of the land," Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said on Wednesday, Fox News reported. "We will not accept anything but the end of the siege."
Over two weeks of intense fighting, including the launching of a ground invasion by Israel, has left over 650 Palestinians dead, with thousands more injured. Israel has said that is targeting terror tunnels and sites in Gaza, and is retaliating against continuous rockets being launched from Hamas into its territory. more >>
Multiple media reports indicate that a Christian in Iran was reportedly sentenced by a judge to have his lips burned with a cigarette after he failed to fast during the month-long Muslim holiday of Ramadan.
Although Islamic rule states that the month-long fasting period of Ramadan only applies to Muslims, the Christian man was reportedly punished publicly in the city of Kermanshah this week. Along with the Christian man's punishment, five Muslim men were reportedly flogged with 70 lashes each for failing to obey the fasting rules of Ramadan, the city's deputy Governor Ali Ashraf Karami told The Daily Mail.
One group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, has condemned the recent public punishments, arguing that they are examples of Iran's unfair justice system that often target non-Muslim citizens. more >>
People around the world are uniting with persecuted Christians in Iraq through the Twitter hashtag "WeAreN," meant to reference the "N" painted on the doors of Christians in Iraq that make them a target for militant Islamists.
Supporters have either changed their Twitter photo to an image of the Arabic letter ن or "N", which stands for "Nazarene" or "Christian" in Arabic. Members of the jihadist militant group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) have invaded towns, including Mosul, demanding Christians either convert to Islam, pay a tax, or be killed. To identify the Christians in the town, members of the ISIS have painted the "N" on their front doors.
The Church of England changed its profile to the Arabic letter for "N," writing: "We are changing our picture to stand with those showing solidarity for those Christians being persecuted in Mosul #WeAreN." more >>
The Patriarch Emeritus of the Latin Catholic Church in Jerusalem has said that the violent conflict between Israel and militant group Hamas in Gaza is a "useless massacre" that will not bring peace, and insisted that Israel must recognize the sovereignty of the Palestinian territory if the cycle of violence is ever to end.
"What is happening in Gaza is not a war, but rather a massacre," Michel Sabbah, Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem of the Latins, told Fides News Agency on Tuesday. "A useless massacre, which will not advance even one step Israel towards peace and security. On the contrary, with all these human sacrifices, the hearts of Israelis and Palestinians are full of new hatred."
He added: "The only way out of the spiral of violence and destruction is to address the underlying issue, which is the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. There will be peace and security only when Israel will recognize the freedom and sovereignty of the Palestinian state." more >>
As militant group ISIS continued its attacks in Iraq, killing 31 people on Tuesday in a suicide blast in Baghdad, the country's bishops have pleaded for the government to stop the "catastrophe" and protect Christians who are being driven out in masses.
The appeal came from Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako and all the Chaldean, Syrian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic and Armenian Bishops in northern Iraq, Fides News Agency reported, and called on the government to provide "financial support to displaced people who have lost everything."
Thousands of Christians have been fleeing northern Iraq and are "near extinction" according to several persecution watchdog groups. Christians in the city of Mosul, which was captured by ISIS in June, were given an ultimatum to convert to Islam, pay a tax, or die. more >>
An ancient Palestinian church has become a sanctuary for dozens of Muslims fleeing violence in the Gaza strip.
The Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Porphyrius, whose origins date back to the 12th-century, is currently home to roughly 1,000 Palestinians hoping to get out of harm's way as Israeli forces continue to strike the region
According to Reuters, the church has been attacked by IDF aircraft and shortly after the initial Palestinian families trickled in, "Israeli aircraft bombed a nearby field, spraying shrapnel on the church and damaging graves." more >>