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Catholic compound vandalized in Gaza

A school and convent were damaged during clashes last week.

June 19, 2007|From the Associated Press

GAZA CITY — A school and convent belonging to the Gaza Strip's tiny Roman Catholic community were ransacked and burned during clashes around a major security headquarters, the community's head said Monday.

Crosses were broken, a statue of Jesus was damaged, and prayer books were burned at the Rosary Sisters School and convent, said the Rev. Manuel Musallem of Gaza's Latin Church.

The damage took place Thursday but wasn't reported until days later because of the chaos that has prevailed since Islamic Hamas militants seized power in Gaza, Musallem said.

Seven computers were removed but three were returned after the vandalism was reported to Ismail Haniyeh, the officially ousted Hamas prime minister, in Gaza.

Haniyeh condemned the attack, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of the rival Fatah movement said in a statement late Sunday from the West Bank that the "barbaric" assault was the act of Hamas' militia.

"There may be some in Hamas who wanted to cause strife between Muslims and Christians," Musallem said.

Hamas lawmaker Salah Bardawil denied that Hamas had a hand in the vandalism.

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