.- The Catholic relief association, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) recently reported on the dire situation of Christians living in Israel’s West Bank, since the Hamas party came to power. “The crisis for the area's about 150,000 Christians has deepened,” they said, “especially with increased intolerance to non-Muslims.”
In an interview with ACN, Victor Tabash, a shopkeeper from Bethlehem who sells Christian devotional gifts, put it this way: "It has become awful living here. We do not believe what is happening. Since the election, things have been getting worse and worse."
With a squeeze on public finances and frequent problems traveling to Jerusalem where many Palestinians work and shop, many reported that Israeli authorities frequently close roads, preventing access to Tel Aviv Airport and the city center.
ACN has offered help to Christian shopkeepers by retailing their hand-made olive devotional items such as crucifixes, cribs and rosaries, an act which is generating funds for Christians in the West Bank.
Mr. Tabash said: "The ACN project is doing a great job for us. We now have orders being sent out from all over the world, from Canada to Australia and now Poland."
In the last 40 years, the Christian population in the West Bank has slumped from about 20 percent of the total to less than two percent today.