Christian Village Attacked by Fundamentalists in West Bank

Taiba, a Christian village east of Ramallah, was attacked by hundreds of Islamic fundamentalists coming from neighbouring villages. It has been reported to be one of the worst against Christians in the West Bank in many years. Since Saturday evening until Sunday morning, many houses and vehicles were torched and looted, causing many to flee from the village of 1500 residents.

Palestinian Authority security forces broke up the attacks – leaving none injured. Residents complained that the IDF, which looks after all the security in the area, did not reply to their calls for immediate help and that the PA security forces took several hours to reach the village.

"The delay resulted in the torching of a number of houses and cars in the village," said Col. Tayseer Mansour, commander of the PA police in the Ramallah area. He explained that his men arrived late because they needed to coordinate their movements with the IDF.

According to Jerusalem Post, the attack was triggered by the murder of a 30 year old Muslim woman from the nearby village of Deir Jarir earlier this week. PA security sources said that the woman was apparently murdered by family members for having a romance with a Christian man from the Taiba.

According to one source, "When her family discovered that she had been involved in a forbidden relationship with a Christian, they apparently forced her to drink poison. Then they buried her without reporting her death to the relevant authorities."

Her family feared that the relationship would be publicised when the PA security sources decided to investigate into her death. The family was enraged when authorities decided to exhume her body for autopsy for further investigation.

"More than 500 Muslim men, chanting Allahu akbar [God is great], attacked us at night," said a Taiba resident, according to Jerusalem Post. "They poured kerosene on many buildings and set them on fire. Many of the attackers broke into houses and stole furniture, jewellery and electrical appliances."

A statue of the Virgin Mary was destroyed. At least 16 houses were burnt down. The streets of Taiba were empty on Sunday as all residents stayed indoors while PA policemen roamed the streets.

"It was like a war, they arrived in groups, and many of them were holding clubs," said another resident.

"Some people saw them carrying weapons. They first attacked houses belonging to the Khoury family [looking for the man who had the affair with the women, not realising he had already fled the village.] Then they went to their relatives. They entered the houses and destroyed everything there. Then they tried to enter the local beer factory, but were repelled by PA security agents. The fire engine arrived five hours later."

Taiba was established by the Khoury family in 1994 and is the only West Bank village that is populated completely by Christians - Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox/Catholic.

The area, originally called Ephraim, is thought to be the city which Jesus came to with his disciples before he was crucified. "Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim" (John 11:54).