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Palestinian Territories Facts

Score: 58/ 100
Region: Middle East
Persecution Type: Islamic Oppression
Persecution Level: High
Population: 5,053,000
Christians: 46,600
Main Religion: Islam
Government: Interim Administration
Leader: President Mahmoud Abbas

Profile of Persecution

Violence 14%
Church Life 71%
National Life 64%
Community Life 54%
Family Life 74%
Private Life 68%

Caught in the middle

In general, Palestinian Christians face ethnic persecution from Israelis as a result of the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Their ethnicity results in many restrictions from the Israeli side. Like other Palestinians, Christians experience these limitations on a daily basis, and they are a motivator for relocation. Their faith also puts them in a minority position within the Muslim-majority Palestinian community.

Palestinian society is conservative, and conversion from Islam to Christianity or changing from one church denomination to another is unacceptable or socially undesirable because of the close links between family and religion. Laws in the West Bank generally protect religious freedom, whereas those in Gaza are restrictive.

How Christians are suffering

All Christian groups struggle with travel and other limitations imposed by Israeli authorities. Those who convert to Christianity from Islam, however, face the worst Christian persecution and it is difficult for them to safely participate in existing churches. In the West Bank they are threatened and put under great pressure, in Gaza their situation is so dangerous that they live their Christian faith in utmost secrecy. Nevertheless, the number of converts from Islam is growing slowly.

The influence of radical Islamic ideology is rising, and historical churches have to be diplomatic in their approach towards Muslims. Harassment of church leaders by radical Jews also occurs. Christians not affiliated with the main historical churches sometimes face opposition from larger churches concerning such issues as theology and “sheep stealing.”

Examples

In 2016, two converts to Christianity were shunned by their families. They are still living in the West Bank and Gaza, respectively, with much caution.

During the World Watch List 2018 reporting period, a convert in Gaza was reportedly physically assaulted by his family. He is now in hiding.

Pray for Palestinian Territories

  • Pray that the influence of both active and “sleeping” ISIS cells will continue to be diminished over time.
  • Pray for church leaders in Jerusalem who have to operate carefully to avoid losing privileges such as easy access to visa and permits.
  • Pray for the children from historic Christian communities who sometimes face discrimination in schools in Gaza.
  • Pray that the accepted practice of honor killings would not prevent women from converting from Islam to Christianity.

Stories from Palestinian Territories

August 13, 2019

Life-or-death secrets of God’s Smuggler

Standing for the Church of Jesus, Brother Andrew sought out forgotten Christians in the Holy Land to bring them comfort and strength. Read More

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May 29, 2019

A Ramadan Celebration

A surprise encounter with a Muslim father celebrating his jihadist son's martyrdom offers sobering insight from Brother Andrew. Read More

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May 2, 2019

God’s Perspective on Time

When we ask, "How long, Lord?" writer Al Janssen helps us understand how God sees time. Read More

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