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In late June 1997, a Palestinian convert to Christianity in the northern West Bank was arrested by agents of the Palestinian Authority's Preventive Security Service.

He had been regularly attending church and prayer meetings and was distributing Bibles. The pastor of a church in Ramallah was recently warned by Palestinian Authority security agents that they were monitoring his evangelistic activities in the area and wanted him to come in for questioning for spreading Christianity.

However, the verdict was never enforced by the police and representatives of the family from Hebron later appeared with a new court verdict (signed by the same judge who ruled in the claimants' favor previously), canceling the previous verdict and ratifying the Hebron family's ownership of the property.23 An Israeli government report in 1997 asserted more direct harassment of Christians by the PA.

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The Christian community in the areas administered by the Palestinian Authority (PA) is a small but symbolically important one.

About 35,000 Christians live in the West Bank and 3,000 in Gaza,1 representing about 1.3 percent of Palestinians.

The Palestinian Authority is attempting to cover up the incident and has warned against publicizing the story.

The local commander of the Palestinian police instructed journalists not to report on the incident....

Under Islam, the targeted dhimmi community and each individual in it are made to live in a state of perpetual humiliation in the eyes of the ruling community."3 As described by a Christian Lebanese president, Bashir Gemayil: "a Christian..not a full citizen and cannot exercise political rights in any of the countries which were once conquered by Islam."4 Palestinian Christians have suffered as dhimmis for centuries.

An English traveler in the Holy Land in 1816, for example, remarked that Christians were not permitted to ride on horseback without express permission from the Muslim Pasha.

Rather, there are numerous indications that the Christian population is beleaguered due to its Christianity.

Taken in context of the condition of Christians in other Middle Eastern countries, this picture is especially credible and troubling.

As Sir John Chancellor, British High Commissioner in Palestine, put it in 1931: "Christian Arab leaders, moreover, have admitted to me that in establishing close relations with the [Palestinian] Moslems the Christians have not been uninfluenced by fears of the treatment they might suffer at the hands of the Moslem majority in certain eventualities."9 From 1953 until 1967, Jordan undertook to Islamize the Christian quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem by laws forbidding Christians to buy land and houses....

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