Christian residents of the town of Jifnah in the Palestinian Authority (PA) were attacked by Fatah activists and were forced to pay the Jizyah ransom tax after a local woman complained to the police about the son of a senior Fatah official.
The violent incident, which included shooting, occurred on Friday in an almost exclusively Christian area, situated north of Jerusalem and near Ramallah, the de facto Palestinian Authority (PA) capital.
Fatah activists entered the village driving wildly, shot firearms and threw firebombs at buildings, causing damage to property.
The assault was apparently in response to a complaint submitted to the police by a local woman against the son of senior Fatah official Khalil Razeq, whom she claimed drove recklessly and violently and almost hit her son and herself.
Razeq was enraged by the complaint, filed by a Christian, and gathered Fatah members to exact revenge. Local residents reported that members of the PA’s security forces also participated in the attack.
In a notice published on Facebook, the Christian residents of Jifnah complained about the loss of security and of their property, especially after they were forced to pay the Jizyah, as demanded by Islam.
They demanded that the newly-appointed Prime Minister Mohammad Ishtayeh intervene and ensure their safety, and decry the “racist and sectarian” behavior by a “senior official.”
A member of one of the families told TPS that the Fatah members ordered them to pay the Jizyah “so that they could enjoy the PA’s protection” and that the event was caused by religious and sectarian hatred.
The Jizyah is an annual per capita tax levied by Islamic law on non-Muslim subjects residing in Muslim lands. The tax is a fee for protection provided by the Muslim ruler to non-Muslims, for the permission to practice a non-Muslim religion with some communal autonomy in a Muslim state, and serves as proof of the non-Muslims’ submission to the Muslim state and its laws.
Jizyah has also been understood by some as a ritual humiliation of non-Muslims for not converting to Islam.
PA head Mahmoud Abbas, who is in charge of the armed forces, came under sharp criticism. He was accused of standing by while his “hooligans” acted with little restraint.
Social media users warned of further hate crimes such as the recent attacks on churches in Sri Lanka, while journalists condemned the anarchy in the PA’s streets and called for restoration of order.
Fatah, the ruling party in the PA, has been charged with promoting violence throughout its existence.
Some expressed solidarity with the beleaguered Christians and said that the attack was an assault “on all the homes in Palestine.”
Hamas, Fatah’s rival, took advantage of the incident to embarrass Abbas, who has previously charged Hamas with acting violently against Christians in the Gaza Strip.
Speaking at an event in honor of Good Friday in Ramallah, Ishtayeh declared Saturday that “the Christian community is part of the Palestinian nation and he will not allow any of its members to be harmed.”
Jifnah, one of six Christian villages in the Ramallah area, is home to some 2,000 Christians, 400 of whom have immigrated to other countries.
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