Gaza: Christian Bookshop Bombed & Nigeria: Elections

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Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 425 | Wed 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

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

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-


* 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)



Around 50 people died in violence as the state governor elections
were held last weekend amidst widespread irregularities. The worst
violence and rioting has been in the Niger Delta (where militants
are rejecting the results) and in the northern states of Kano
(where a Christian exodus started some weeks ago), Bauchi and Benu.
Ethno-religious tension is extreme in the middle-belt religious
fault-line state of Plateau. The 21 April presidential election is
promising to be far more explosive and may be discredited even
before the polling booths open. Opposition forces have united to
call for 'non-violent protests', annulment of state governor
results from 'sham elections' and a postponement of the
presidential election. Pray for God to give wisdom and peace to his
people and protect them from violence.




A bomb ripped through the only Christian bookshop in Gaza at 2.30am
on Sunday 15 April. It was a large explosion and the storefront of
this Palestinian Bible Society bookshop was virtually destroyed.
Two Internet cafes were also bombed. Several Taliban-type vigilante
militias are now operating in Gaza, enforcing strict, purist
Islamic dress codes and attacking anything they deem 'un-Islamic'.
Around 40 Internet cafes and video stores have been bombed in
recent months. Churches and Christian ministries have been
threatened and targeted. This latest bombing is the most serious
yet. Please pray for God to bless all gospel, peace and
reconciliation ministries in Gaza and for the brave believers who
will now be working to restore the bookshop ministry in defiance of
terrorist threats and intimidation.

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Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.