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Iraq: An exodus of religious minorities flees Islamist militias

A highlight of my time in Iraq was tagging along with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) as they made a visit to Khazer checkpoint. There, Kurdish peshmerga forces are regulating movement between Nineveh Province—where Islamist forces known as ISIS have seized control of Mosul—and Erbil Province—where Kurdish forces have maintained relative safety and stability while the rest of Iraq is in turmoil. I had traveled through this checkpoint several times while visiting other parts of Nineveh Province outside of ISIS control, but this was the first time I could get out of the car and meet at least a few of the people streaming through this bottleneck.

A child stands  amid the rubble of the destroyed Al Dalu family home, Gaza City December 3, 2012. Ten members of the Al Dalu family were killed, as well as two neighbors, by an Israeli air strike on their three-story home on November 18, 2012. Four of those killed were children, and four were women.

In Iraq with Gaza on my mind: What ‘no country in the world’ should tolerate

I got sick of hearing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his spokespeople repeating the specious line that “no country in the world” would agree to live under the threat of rockets from Gaza. As if that threat somehow excused the overwhelming violence that his military was unleashing on so many innocent civilians. So I wrote this essay for +972 Magazine, accompanied by photos of past Gaza bombardments and the current situation in Iraq. Check it out.

An Israeli tank occupies Bethlehem's Manger Square in front of the Church of the Nativity in 2002.

VIDEO: Bethlehemites deported to Gaza after 2002 church siege

My first visit to Palestine was a little over 12 years ago, just days after the end of the siege of the Church of the Nativity by Israeli forces. Following the siege, 13 Palestinians were exiled to Europe and 26 to the Gaza Strip. In my last visit to Gaza this year, I happened to meet some of the Bethlehemite deportees as they rallied in front of UN offices to present a similar petition to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. In this video, spokesman Fahmi Kanan explains the situation faced by Bethlehem deportees in the open air prison that is Gaza.