Displaced Palestinian gather of Iftar meal at a Greek Orthodox church where many Palestinians are taking shelter in Gaza City on July 25, 2014. AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED
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For Gaza resident Mahmoud Khalaf, it was a bizarre new experience, prostrating himself for his daily Muslim prayers beneath the gaze of an icon of Jesus Christ.But since the war in Gaza began, he has had no choice but to worship in a Christian house of God, where he took refuge after Israeli airstrikes pummelled his neighborhood in the north of the Palestinian territory.Khalaf, who fled his home in Shaaf after the area became a target for Israeli warplanes, twirls his prayer beads anxiously, but is relieved to have found sanctuary alongside some 500 other displaced Muslims.Khalaf has now grown accustomed to worshipping on the premises of an alien religion – a particularly acute contrast during the fast of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.Pastors and parishioners have been respectful to their Muslim guests during Ramadan.Gaza's Christians have dwindled in number to around 1,500 out of a predominantly Sunni population of 1.7 million.
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