Gunmen explode YMCA library in Gaza

No casualties in attack; security guards at YMCA held by gunmen, then released; library mostly burnt.

jp.services1 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
A band of 14 masked gunmen forced its way into YMCA offices in the Gaza Strip and exploded a library there, Israel Radio reported Friday. Thousands of books were reportedly burnt in the ensuing fire. The YMCA in Gaza also operates a gym and a wedding hall. The gunmen laid a second explosive device near a computer in the library but it failed to detonate. Two security guards on the scene were not able to block the intruders; they were taken by them from the YMCA and later released in the northern Gaza Strip. The latest incident is another link in an ongoing chain of attacks against Palestinian Christians which has worsened since Hamas took power of the Gaza Strip last June. However, Christians in the West Bank were not faring much better and the Christian population in both territories has been continually dwindling. The Palestinian Christian population has dipped to 1.5% of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, down from at least 15% a half century ago, according to some estimates. No city in the Holy Land is more indicative of the Christian exodus than Bethlehem, which fell under full Palestinian control last decade as part of the Oslo Accords. The town of 30,000 is now less than 20% Christian, after decades during which Christians were the majority. Elsewhere in the PA territories, only about 3,000 Christians, mostly Greek Orthodox, live in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, among a strongly conservative Muslim population of 1.4 million. Etgar Lefkovits contributed to this report