Palestinian Christians Are Increasingly Threatened by Their Islamist Compatriots

On Christmas day, a group of Palestinian Muslims stoned the car of the head of the Catholic Church in Israel. A few days prior, the Palestinian Authority (PA) announced that public Christmas celebrations in the West Bank would be limited, ostensibly because of the tense security situation. However, writes Bassam Tawil, its real motivation is entirely different:

[Palestinian] leaders . . . told the Christian population that there was no reason to celebrate while Palestinians were being shot and killed by Israelis—meaning those Palestinians killed while stabbing Jews with knives or running Jews down with cars.

On the eve of Christmas, however, it became clear that the real reason behind the PA’s decision to cancel public celebrations had nothing to do with Israel or the “intifada.” The decision, it turned out, came after threats by Muslim extremists to target Christians and their holy sites. Christian residents of Bethlehem and Ramallah said they received threats and demands to cancel celebrations from various Islamic groups. Their threats come in the context of ongoing Islamist persecution of Christians not only in the Palestinian territories but also in other Arab countries, such as Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Egypt.

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Christmas, Middle East Christianity, Palestinian Authority, Palestinians, Radical Islam

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy