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Baptist Father of Five Among Fatalities in Gaza

Salem Boulos, who attended the Gaza Baptist Church, was among the casualties who died in the recent war between Israel and Hamas.
The 45-year-old father of four daughters and one son was killed when bombs dropped by an Israeli jet hit a building near where he stood on Nov. 19.

“[W]e had a very difficult night yesterday all over Gaza city as well as all the areas,” a member of Gaza Baptist Church wrote on Nov. 22. The bombings badly damaged many houses in Gaza.

Hanna Massad, former pastor of Gaza Baptist Church, who has been living in exile because of continuing tensions in Gaza, told the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) that “almost 40 percent of the people who have been killed in Gaza are children.”

The Gaza Baptist Church building suffered only minor damage caused by the bombing of the main police station in Gaza, which is less than 50 feet from the church building.

“People are very fearful,” Massad wrote on Nov. 20, indicating that Gaza residents were hopeful that rumors of a ceasefire would be true.

A ceasefire was announced on Nov. 21, ending the war that began a week earlier on Nov. 14.

Baptists in Israel, meanwhile, were largely unaffected by the war.

“Baptists in Israel were far from this round of violence, as they are concentrated in the north of Israel and the violence was mostly in the south of Israel and the Gaza Strip,” Bader Mansour, executive secretary of the Association of Baptist Churches in Israel, told the BWA.

Israeli Baptists, who are mostly of Palestinian origin, were praying for their brothers and sisters in Gaza and for their homeland, Mansour said. “We continue to pray for justice and freedom for the Palestinians and peace and security for Israel.”

More than 150 Palestinians and five Israelis died in the one-week conflict.

The Christian community in Gaza is estimated to be about 2,000 persons, who are members of three churches in the Gaza Strip – a Greek Orthodox church, a Catholic church and Gaza Baptist Church.

This news release first appeared at the Baptist World Alliance website.