attacked and set fire to the Young Men Christian Association (YMCA) office
in the West Bank city of Qalqilia, on Saturday morning.
According to local police reports, the men
destroyed the locks on the YMCA building's gates, destroyed the gates, then entered the building
and set fire to some rooms. The building sustained partial damage due the fire. Local
fire brigades rushed to the scene and stopped the fire before spreading, police
said they had opened an investigation to hunt down and arrest the attackers.
Local clergy and officials in the city condemned
the attack and called it 'illegal and irresponsible'.
This is not the first time the organization has been attacked
in Qalqilia. Several months ago a group of unknown gunmen attacked the outside
door and set it on fire. Also, the organization was accused in the past by some Imams [Muslim religious leaders] of doing Christian missionary work. The Imams had asked the
Palestinian Authority to close it.
The work of the YMCA in Qalqilia is mainly working on youth development
and charity work. The Governor of Qalqilia, Tyesser Manssor said that this
organization has no political ties and engages only in charity work, not missionary work.
In general, since 1982, the Palestine
YMCA has been a gathering place for fellowship, sports, personal fitness, and
for social gatherings for individuals and families.
In 1989, the YMCA opened a vocational, social and psychological program that aided Palestinian youth who were disabled by Israeli military fire during the first Intifada that stated in 1987.
The center continued its services until the current time. Each YMCA branch in the West Bank works with local cases in their areas before the beneficiaries are transferred to the YMCA main Center in Beit Sahour where they receive vocational training in addition to counseling.