A senior delegation from the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, visited the Church of Saint Porphyrius in Gaza on Thursday and met with Greek Orthodox Archbishop Alexios and Issa Tarazi, the head of the refugee committee of the Near East Council of Churches. The church is named after Saint Porphyry, who was Bishop of Gaza from 395 to 420.
Hamas officials explained that their visit was intended to discuss social relations, tolerance and fraternal relations between Muslim and Christian Palestinians. Such values are core principles for the Palestinian people, they insisted.
Delegation member Basem Na’im pointed out that the Israeli occupation authorities do not distinguish between the two faith groups when they attack Palestinians. The senior official told the media covering the meeting that Hamas is “keen to strengthen ties” with all segments of the Palestinian community.
“Christians live securely in Palestine,” added Maher Al-Houli. “They are equal to Muslim residents, and this visit confirms our shared values of coexistence and peace.”
Welcoming the Hamas officials, Archbishop Alexios expressed his thanks and appreciation for the visit to the church. He noted that this is an example of the tolerance and coexistence between Muslims and Christians in Palestine.
“We, as Christians, do not feel that we are isolated in Gaza, and Hamas reciprocates love, respect and appreciation with us,” concluded the Archbishop. “The Christian community in the territory is an integral part of the Palestinian people, and shares the same suffering and same hopes.”