Bible Society Center in Gaza Temporarily Closed After Threat

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Unknown masked gunmen threatened to blow it up; West Bank facility also attacked.

March 6 (Compass) -- The Palestinian Bible Society has temporarily closed down its center with bookshop in Gaza City after it came under a bombing threat, said its acting secretary general, Nashat Filmon.

Militants had exploded two small pipe bombs at the entrance of the center on February 3, causing damage but no injuries. Some days later, unknown masked gunmen distributed pamphlets on Palestine Square in Gaza City threatening to blow up the whole building if it did not close down before February 28. Militants also warned the society not to establish itself elsewhere in Palestinian territory.

They also accused the believers of being Crusaders, according to Filmon.

The decision to close down was taken to protect the people working in the building where the center is situated, Filmon said.

“There are some other people in other shops,” he said. “It is a temporary act till it is sorted out, and that shall happen soon.”

The center of the Bible Society in Bir Zeit on the West Bank was also attacked last week, Filmon said. On February 28 militants broke windows and attempted to set the center’s Christian student facility on fire. They also painted slogans on the wall summoning the society to leave.

The Society turned to Palestinian civil and military authorities for protection.

“As far as we know, they recently put some security around our place in Gaza,” Filmon said. “In Bir Zeit they showed sympathy, and they said that there is chaos in Gaza and the West Bank in general. This chaos affects aspects of life. So, as everybody knows, many things are happening. But they are trying their best.”

A week before the February 28 attack, militants had smashed windows at the Bir Zeit facility. On Nov. 18, 2005, they set the student center on fire.

The Palestinian Bible Society has seven centers in East-Jerusalem and the areas of the Palestinian Authority, Filmon said. A center in Nablus was closed several years ago due to a tense political situation. The center in Bir Zeit will remain open.

Filmon asked for prayer for protection for the team and the work of the Palestinian Bible Society. “We know that danger is around us, but we are still working.”

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