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Galilee village Catholics remain fearful a week after violence

Fear has remained on the faces of Melkite Catholics who have returned to the village of Maghar, a week after fleeing Druze-led violence.

Catholic News Service reports that, in the village's Christian neighbourhood, cars were vandalised, overturned and burned. Windows of houses and businesses were shattered; shutters were broken and hacked through with hatchets and axes; buildings were blackened from flames reaching up to the third floor; and the insides of businesses -- which were first plundered -- were destroyed and charred.

"[The Druze] destroyed all the Christian businesses," said one man, as he stood outside his family's ruined pastry shop.

Maghar's Christians all are Melkite Catholic, and many declined to give their names or have their pictures taken, afraid they would be singled out later for attacks.

Karawani and his family left the village; he returns to his home only during the day. His children, like the other Christian children who attend the village public school, had not been to school for a week.

There is no Christian school in the village, and no one can assure the safety of their children in the public school, where they are harassed almost daily, said the Catholic villagers.

Catholic News Service says everyone has a horror story of how they escaped the attacks. Some, whose cars were still intact, fled their homes with their children as soon as they had an opportunity. Those whose cars were already in flames ran to family and friends for safety, and others were forced to remain in their homes while outside the mobs tried to break in or set flames to stores on the lower floors.

The Druze sect originated in Egypt and broke off from Islam in the early 11th century. They live scattered in Israel, Syria and Lebanon. There are also immigrant Druze communities in the United States, Canada, Europe and Latin America.

"I don't know why they hate us. We believe in tolerance. There was something like this in the '80s, too, and here we are in the year 2005 in the same situation," he said.

Noor Artoul, 38, his nephew, came to assess the damage to his minimarket. He said his four children are terrified to return to the village, and his first concern is for their safety and emotional well-being. A return to life as it was before, he said, is impossible.

A week after violence, fear remains on faces of Maghar's Catholics (Catholic News Service 21/2/05)

Local Council of Maghar
al-Maghar (
Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation

Vatican envoy urges Christians to return to Galilee village (Ecumenical News International 22/2/05)
Holy Land: patients suffer as wall blocks access to hospitals (Independent Catholic News/Amos Trust 22/2/05)
Papal Message Conveyed to Harassed Christians in Galilee (Zenit 21/2/05)
Vatican envoy holds solidarity Mass in Maghar (Haaretz 20/2/05)

23 Feb 2005