Christian Arabs in a northern Galilee village were attacked by Islamists on Friday, according to a MIDEAST NEWSWIRE report from Haifa.

A correspondent witnessed the burning of two houses and several cars, and the destruction of propriety in Christian quarters of the village of Tur'an. He described the perpetrators as supporters of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the PLO.

He said that, two days earlier, a Christian Arab student from the University of Haifa was murdered "by Islamists".

The Tur'an attack came after weeks of tensions following incidents which occurred during last Easter's celebration, the report said.

"A group of Islamist militants erupted inside the local church and attempted to disrupt the service. The Christians gathered in defence of their holy place and repelled the militants. Two weeks after, Islamists escalated tension and brutalised a number of Christian youth."

Roughly half of the village's 5,000 inhabitants are Christians.

An official of the Middle East Christian Committee in Jerusalem protested the attacks and called on the Israeli government to defend its Christian citizens.

"If Islamist terrorists can burn our houses and kill our youth under Israeli sovereignty, we can imagine what will happen under Islamist rule" he said. "We must organise our community and mobilise Christians abroad."

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