The Israeli State, established in 1948 on the back of a Zionist settler campaign of terrorist bombings and massacres of Arab civilians, has caused the Christian population of the Holy Land to all but disappear; destroyed and driven into exile by Israeli Zionists.
In a joint statement issued alongside the Anglican and Lutheran Bishops Emeritus of Jerusalem, Catholic Archbishop Michel Sabbah, the Latin Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem, has reminded Catholics that “the Israeli military occupation and colonization of Palestine is the root cause of the on-going conflict.”
The Zionist colonisation of Palestine, the murderous terrorist campaigns carried out by Jewish settlers to achieve their aims, and the military occupation of Palestine by the Zionist State has been consistently opposed and condemned by the Catholic Church for spiritual, moral, theological, and practical reasons.
In 1904 the founder of the Zionist movement, Theodor Herzl, was received in audience by Pope Saint Pius X. The holy pope told Herzl in no uncertain terms that the Christian Church could only oppose the Zionist movement and the colonisation of Palestine by European Jews.
“If the international community does not stop Israel’s aggression against the Palestinians,” the technical director of Al-Watania [Media Agency] told me, “you will not see any Christians in Gaza within a decade.”
There are two Christian communities in Gaza – Catholic and Orthodox — but there are no precise statistics for them. Neither of the two Churches in Gaza keeps such records, but according to Tarazi there were more than 30,000 Christians in Gaza in 1948. By 1987, though, when the First Intifada started, the number was only 18,000 and it has continued to decline because of Israeli aggression against the Palestinians. By 2006 there were just 2,500 Palestinian Christians in the enclave. “Today,” said Tarazi, “there are only 800.”
According to the director of public relations at Saint Porphyrius Church in Gaza’s Old City, it is indeed the Israeli aggression which is the main reason for the declining Christian population in the besieged territory. “We are part of the Palestinian people and we are affected by everything that affects everyone else,” Kamel Ayyad pointed out. “We experience all forms suffering under the Israeli occupation like our fellow citizens. Christians who left Gaza and those who are thinking of leaving are escaping from the occupation, siege and military offensives. They are looking for stability and freedom of movement.”