NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--An Israeli air strike at Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip seriously damaged Gaza Baptist Church on New Year's Day. The Israeli offensive -- launched Dec. 27 after a week in which more than 200 rockets struck southern Israel from the Gaza Strip -- illustrates the failure of the "land for peace" strategy in the Middle East, say two Israeli commentators. A leading Southern Baptist observer called the situation a "human tragedy" and "squandered opportunity."
Windows were blown out at Gaza Baptist Church when Israeli aircraft attacked a police station across the street, according to a report from the BosNews service. In 2007, the six-story church was commandeered by fighters with the Palestinian Fatah faction as a lookout station during the civil war in Gaza between Fatah and Hamas.
More specific information on the building and church members is not yet available. The church's pastor, Hanna Massad, was forced to flee Gaza after the Hamas takeover. Another Baptist leader in Gaza, bookstore owner Rami Ayyad, was kidnapped and murdered in October 2007.
Israel followed several days of aerial bombardment on Hamas target with a ground invasion Jan. 2, cutting the Gaza Strip in half and digging in around Gaza City. The Israeli offensive has focused on gaining control of high-rise buildings outside Gaza City and destroying buildings that serve as Hamas command centers or weapons caches ... Read More