Bombs hit Christian bookshop, Internet cafe in Gaza

GAZA (Reuters) - Bombs damaged a Christian bookstore and an Internet cafe in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, Palestinian police said, with no claim of responsibility.

Attacks against Christian sites in the territory are rare, but at least 40 Internet cafes and video shops have been blown up in the past few months. Many of the bombings were claimed by a previously unknown group, “The Righteous Swords of Islam”.

The bombings came a day after the Palestinian cabinet ratified a security plan aimed at stopping mounting lawlessness in the Gaza Strip, where rival factions have frequently clashed.

Residents said an explosion before dawn at the Protestant Holy Bible Society in Gaza City blew out windows and ignited a fire that burned shelves of books. Police said a bomb caused the blast.

Elsewhere in Gaza City, a bomb destroyed an Internet cafe, police said.

Some 3,000 Christians live among 1.5 million Muslims in Gaza. Relations between the communities have been good.

Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, an Islamist group that formed a unity government with the secular Fatah faction last month, said the new administration was determined “to end security anarchy”.


In further violence, a Fatah member was killed by gunmen in Gaza on Sunday, witnesses and hospital officials said. There was no immediate claim.

Fatah sources accused Hamas gunmen of carrying out the killing. The Islamist group did not immediately comment.

Despite the unity government deal, tensions between Hamas and Fatah remain high and sporadic fighting between loyalists has continued in Gaza.

Interior Minister Hani al-Qawasmi told reporters in Gaza on Sunday the security plan aimed to restore order in the strip “in 100 days”.

“There will be an intense presence of security forces in the streets in order to give the people a sense of security,” he said.

“The Ministry of Interior warns anyone who would ever think of assaulting any police officers in any shape or form.”

The security plan sets up a liaison mechanism for rival security forces in a new push to promote law and order.

Haniyeh said he hoped cooperation among the factions would help end abductions of international journalists and aid workers.

British Broadcasting Corporation reporter Alan Johnston was seized by gunmen in Gaza a month ago.

A previously unknown Islamist group, the Tawhid and Jihad Brigades, sent an e-mail to media organizations on Sunday saying it had killed Johnston.

The British broadcaster and Palestinian officials stressed the claim was not verified. There has been no word on his whereabouts.