|Persecution Type:||Islamic Oppression|
|Leader:||President Mahmoud Abbas|
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.
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.”
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.