TheCatholic relief association, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) recentlyreported on the dire situation of Christians living in Israel's WestBank, since the Hamas party came to power. "The crisis for the area'sabout 150,000 Christians has deepened," they said, "especially withincreased intolerance to non-Muslims."

In an interviewwith ACN, Victor Tabash, a shopkeeper from Bethlehem who sellsChristian devotional gifts, put it this way: "It has become awfulliving here. We do not believe what is happening. Since the election,things have been getting worse and worse."

With a squeezeon public finances and frequent problems traveling to Jerusalem wheremany Palestinians work and shop, many reported that Israeli authoritiesfrequently close roads, preventing access to Tel Aviv Airport and thecity center.

ACN has offeredhelp to Christian shopkeepers by retailing their hand-made olivedevotional items such as crucifixes, cribs and rosaries, an act whichis 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 beingsent out from all over the world, from Canada to Australia and nowPoland."

In the last 40years, the Christian population in the West Bank has slumped from about20 percent of the total to less than two percent today.