Did you miss me? I traveled to Cuba on a reporting trip. Given my limited internet access while away, Plug-in took last week off.
That means this is our first edition since the Israel-Hamas war started.
What an overwhelming story with countless religious angles. But I’ll do my best to catch you — and me — up.
The latest: a blast on the campus of the historic St. Porphyrius Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza City, where scores of Palestinian families had been sheltering from Israeli air strikes. The omnipresent Clemente Lisi has the details.
This is our weekly roundup of the top headlines and best reads in the world of faith. We start, of course, with the deadly conflict in the Middle East.
What To Know: The Big Story
‘Blood libel’: “The heated discourse about the deadly rocket explosion near Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in the southern Gaza City neighborhood of Zeitoun on Tuesday is rooted in the centuries-old religious hatred underlying the current war in Gaza.”
That’s the lede from Gil Zohar, reporting from Jerusalem for ReligionUnplugged.
The blast occurred at Gaza’s only Christian hospital, reported Christianity Today’s Morgan Lee.
The why: Hamas is selling its assault on Israel as a holy war, as Religion News Service’s Michelle Chabin and Yonat Shimron detail:
When Hamas, the Islamic Palestinian terrorist group, stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, took over military bases, massacred more than 1,300 Israelis — most of them civilians — and kidnapped 150, it dubbed its military operation the “Al-Aqsa Deluge.”
The reference to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which includes the Dome of the Rock, as well as the smaller Al-Aqsa Mosque, was clearly intended as a rallying cry to unite Muslims by convincing them that their faith is under assault.
Expressions like “Free Al-Aqsa” are intended to galvanize Muslims against non-Muslims, said Shuki Friedman, vice president of the Jewish People Policy Institute and an expert on Islamic law at the Peres Academic Center. They help to unify the world’s nearly 2 billion Sunni and Shiite Muslims, who have been at odds, and sometimes war, for centuries. “What can unite them is the common enemy: Jews and Israel,” said Friedman.
Read much more Israel-Hamas war coverage:
• ‘Miracle we got out alive’: Jews recall horror of Hamas attacks (by Clemente Lisi)
• Islamic world divided over Hamas massacres (by Gil Zohar)
* Seeking some Gaza facts, maybe even truth, in today’s niche-media matrix (by Terry Mattingly)
• ‘This is Israel’s 9/11’: Christians wage war against Hamas (by Erik Tryggestad)
• Franciscans maintain lonely vigil over Holy Land’s Christian sites (by Gil Zohar)
• As death toll climbs, the war becomes personal for every Israeli (by Gil Zohar)
• Palestinian-American community mourns death of Muslim boy (by Clemente Lisi)
• Christian leaders call for ‘end to cycle of violence’ between Jews and Muslims (by Clemente Lisi)