Gaza Strip and West Bank, Middle East
Political Leader: Hamas Leader Ismail Haniyeh.
Religions: Islam 98.7%, Christianity .7%, Judaism .6%
Persecution Ranking: Not Ranked
Number of Terrorist Groups: 35 (Includes both Gaza Strip & West Bank)
Acts of Terrorism: 2,032; Casualties: 560 (Includes both Gaza Strip & West Bank)
Percent of Corruption: Insufficient Data to Rank
% of People in Poverty 63.1%
The Gaza Strip is a coastal strip of land along the Mediterranean, bordering Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the north and east. It is about 25 miles long, and between four to seven and half miles wide, with a total area of 139 square miles. The territory takes its name from Gaza, its main city. It has about 1.4 million residents, all Palestinians.
The Gaza Strip and its population are nominally governed by the Palestinian National Authority. However, following the June 2007 battle of Gaza, actual control is in the hands of the de facto government dominated by the terrorist organization Hamas. Israel controls the strip's airspace and offshore maritime access.
Israel has grappled with a growing concern that terrorists, weapons and funds were being smuggled between Egypt and the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing―which is manned by the Palestinian Authority Border Crossing Authority, international observers and Egyptian border guards―and a series of tunnels under the 12 kilometer Philadelphi Corridor (PC) separating Gaza from Egypt. Israeli security experts voiced concern that Palestinian militants were exiting the Gaza Strip via Rafah, and then infiltrating Israel across the Egypt-Israel border. After Hamas staged a June 25, 2006 attack on Israeli soldiers near Kerem Shalom that resulted in two deaths and the abduction of Corporal Gilad Shalit, Israel took steps that severely limited the operation of the Rafah crossing. Israel also carried out operations to locate tunnels under the PC, destroying at least 17 during the year.
Israeli security services maintained that Palestinian terrorists attempted numerous times to perpetrate attacks in Israel, but were thwarted. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip attempted to infiltrate Israel by breaching the security fence around the Gaza Strip, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s members were stopped en route to suicide bombings in Israeli territory.
Israeli security officials claim they thwarted numerous attempts by Popular Resistance Committees operatives and other Palestinian militants to detonate explosives at the Karni crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Gaza is comprised of 98.7% Muslims and only .7% of the population are Christians.
Challenges for Christians:
The director of the Gaza Strip's only known Christian bookstore was found dead October 7, 2007, shortly after being abducted near his home. Rami Khader Ayyad, 32, was found stepped and shot to death in a street of Gaza City, six months after his Teacher's Bookshop of the Palestinian Bible Society was blown up by militants. Ayyad had reportedly been missing since October 6, 2007. He had received repeated death threats in recent years from unidentified people displeased with his missionary work. There was however no immediate claim of responsibility for the killing of the Christian worker.
Staff members of the Palestinian Bible Society have repeatedly appealed for prayers and support from Christians around the world, said Ian McKay, Bible Society’s International, before news broke of Ayyads killing. “There is a great need of prayer for staff in Gaza. They have been under threat and violent attack. They have also under great pressure to meet the needs of their suffering communities” he said.
Only 2,000 Christians, most of them Greek Orthodox and some evangelicals, live among the 1.5 million Muslims of the Gaza Strip, according to several estimates. Despite rising tensions, they remained in the area after Hamas wrested control of the area in mid-June 2007. There have been occasional acts of violence, including in April, when a bomb severely damaged the Palestinian Bible Society's bookstore in Gaza City, which has been operating since 1999.
Ayyad’s murder has raised doubts about the future of the Palestinian Bible Society's activities in the region, which besides distributing Christian literature, also include aid and education programs.
- Pray for peace and the violence to stop between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority in the Gaza Strip.
- Pray that when the enemy comes against innocent people in the Gaza Strip that the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against the enemy by sending forth weapons from His arsenal in heaven. (Exodus 15:3, 6-7 and Isaiah 59:19)
- Pray for the salvation of leaders and members of the terrorist organization Hamas.
- Pray for God’s comfort and provision for Rami Khader Ayyad’s family. Pray for supernatural protection for the Palestinian Bible Society. Pray that it will be able to continue its ministry in the Gaza Strip.
- Pray for Christians in the Gaza Strip to have total dependency on the Lord. Pray for their spiritual growth and that they may be light and salt to their Muslim neighbors.
Sources: 24-7 Prayer, Operation World, Wikipedia, Country Reports on Terrorism 2006, International Religious Freedom Report 2007, Open Doors, BosNewsLife, Israel Today