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PRESS RELEASE
Christian Bookshop Bombed
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin
18-Apr-2007
A bomb ripped through the only Christian bookshop in Gaza, Israel (Palestinian Authority administrated territory), at 2.30am on Sunday 15 April. This Palestinian Bible Society bookshop has been targeted before but this is the most serious attack yet. According to Christianity Today (CT) the attackers had earlier kidnapped and beaten the security guard to obtain a key to the premises. Because the guard did not have a key the militants were forced to set the bomb outside the front doors. It was a huge explosion and the shop front was destroyed. As the terrorists had wanted to plant the bombs inside they clearly intended to inflict even more extensive damage.

Deann Alford writes for CT, 'The Palestinian Bible Society's Gaza ministry includes relief work in Gaza's refugee camps and community health, microenterprise and development projects. Suhad Salsa Massad, wife of Gaza Baptist Church pastor Hanna Massad, directs the ministry.' When local television reported the incident the executive director of the Palestinian Bible Society, Labib Madanat, used the opportunity to assure the people of Gaza that the ministry would continue, as well as to send a message of forgiveness to the attackers.

Two Internet cafes also were bombed on the night of 15 April.
Around 40 Internet cafes and video stores have been targeted in the past few months. A self-appointed anti-vice squad calling itself 'The Swords of Islam' (or 'The Swords of Truth', 'The Righteous Swords of Islam', 'The Swords of Islamic Right') has claimed responsibility for most of these attacks. This is the same group believed to have kidnapped BBC reporter Alan Johnston and in September 2006 threatened to bomb all churches and Christian institutions in Gaza in response to Pope Benedict's comments linking Islam with violence (see RLP 396). Several possibly al Qaeda-linked, Taliban-type vigilante militias are now operating in Gaza, demanding and enforcing Islamisation along strict, purist Wahhabi lines. Ali Waked of Ynet news (Israel) comments that the signs of widespread radicalisation in Gaza are clear to see in strict dress codes and in virulent opposition to anything 'un- Islamic'.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR GOD TO:

* mercifully bless and protect all gospel, peacemaking and
reconciliation ministries in Israel, particularly those in the
Palestinian Territories. 'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they
will be called sons of God.' (Matthew 5:9 NIV)

* specifically bless and protect Hanna Massad (pastor of Gaza
Baptist Church), his wife Suhad Salsa Massad (who directs the
Palestinian Bible Society's Gaza ministries), Labib Madanat
(PBS executive director) and all those who will now be
involved in restoring this ministry in defiance of terrorist
threats and intimidation.

'Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap. . .'
(Psalm 113:5-7 NIV)