Christian leaders in Gaza and Israel are urging a ceasefire between the militaries of Israel and Hamas, explaining the situation on the ground from their perspective but rejecting the habit of laying blame on one side for the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Dr. Munir S. Kakish, Chairman Council of Local Evangelical Churches in the Holy Land, told The Christian Post in an email interview on Monday that "one piece of information often not known is that there are Christians in Palestine, Gaza and the West Bank. There have been Christian Arabs here since the time of Jesus," he pointed out.
Israel and Hamas have been engaged in a violent conflict stretching over two-weeks now, with rockets being fired from both sides. Palestinian casualties have reached over 500, with thousands more injured, after the Israel government ordered a ground invasion into Gaza, targeting terrorist tunnels and other sites it said are a direct threat to the Israeli people. more >>
As Iraq's Christians continue fleeing the city of Mosul and other regions following a "convert or die" ultimatum by Islamic militants ISIS, persecution watchdog group Open Doors said that the "unprecedented" forced exodus has left Christianity in the Middle East near extinction.
"The persecution and treatment of Christians in Mosul is unprecedented in modern times," Dr. David Curry, President/CEO of Open Doors USA, said in a statement on Monday. "This latest forced exodus of Christians further shows why Western governments and the people in the West need to cry out in support for religious freedom in the Middle East and elsewhere. If this does not move us concerning the near extinction of Christianity in the Middle East, it's likely nothing else can."
ISIS, which has taken control of Mosul and other parts of Iraq, gave Christians until midday Saturday to convert to Islam, pay a tax, or be killed. Thousands of Christians have subsequently fled the region, with some seeking refuge at camps in the autonomous region of Kurdistan. more >>
A Holocaust Studies professor has rejected accusations by some world leaders that Israel is committing "genocide" against Palestinians in Gaza during the ongoing military conflict.
"It seems as if every time Israel defends itself, somebody points an accusing finger and yells 'Genocide!' Raphael Lemkin, who coined that term 70 years ago this autumn, would have been appalled by such abuse of his life's work," Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, wrote in a JNS.org article on Monday.
"For the term 'genocide' to have any meaning, it must be used strictly in situations that indisputably warrant such a determination, according to the legal definition. Applying it or withholding it based on political considerations will render the term useless," he added. more >>
Pope Francis prayed for an end to Christian persecution in the Middle East on Sunday, one day after Christians were forced to flee the village of Mosul in Iraq following threats from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), a jihadist militant group.
While leading a moment of silence in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Sunday, Francis said that Christians suffering persecution in the Middle East will be the subject of his "constant prayers."
"Violence isn't overcome with violence. Violence is conquered with peace," the pope told the crowd gathered at St. Peter's Square. "Our brothers and sisters are persecuted, they are chased away." more >>
Following news that Iraq's dwindling Christians have been forced out of their centuries' old homeland over the weekend, a British academic and scholar of American history demanded to know why their plight had received such scant attention and called the status quo response "worthy of contempt."
Writing for The Telegraph Monday, Tim Stanley, called the ISIS-prompted exodus from Iraq a "war crime that, strangely, no one seems to want to talk about."
The scholar summarized the Christians' plight as "an unattractive choice: convert, pay a religious tax, or be put to the sword." more >>
Over 100 people, including women and children, were killed on Sunday in the bloodiest day since the conflict between Israel and militant group Hamas began two weeks ago. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Hamas for putting Palestinian civilians in the crossfire and using them as human shields, with the overall death toll reaching close to 500.
"We're sad for every civilian casualty. They're not intended. This is the difference between us. The Hamas deliberately targets civilians and deliberately hides behind civilians. They embed their rocketeers, their rocket caches, their - their other weaponry from where - which they fire - which they use to fire on us in civilian areas," Netanyahu told CNN in an interview on Sunday.
"What choice do we have? We have to protect ourselves. So we try to target the rocketeers. We do. And all civilian casualties are unintended by us, but intended by Hamas. They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can, because somebody said they use - it's gruesome. They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead the better." more >>