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A Palestinian Christian activist who had received repeated death threats was found stabbed to death in a street in Gaza City early Sunday.

Rami Khader Ayyad, 32, was director of the Teacher's Bookshop, Gaza's only Christian bookstore, which is run by the Bible Society of Gaza Baptist church.

Health Ministry officials confirmed his death.

Ayyad had been missing since Saturday evening. Over the years he had received repeated death threats from unidentified people displeased with his missionary work.

The Interior Ministry run by Gaza's Islamic militant Hamas rulers condemned the killing and said it launched an investigation.

"This grave crime will not pass without punishment," the ministry said in a statement.

About 3,200 Christians live in Gaza, most of them Greek Orthodox. Relations with Gaza's Muslims are generally good, and have not deteriorated since Hamas wrested control of the strip in mid-June.

But there have been occasional acts of violence, and in April, a bomb severely damaged the Palestinian Bible Society building in Gaza, which has been operating since 1999.