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Palestinian Christians Killed After Bombing of Historic Orthodox Church

October 20, 2023
Greek Orthodox Saint Porphyrius Church (L), the oldest church still in use in Gaza, is next to a mosque, the day after the church was damaged in an Israeli strike in Gaza City on October 20, 2023. AFP

The Church of St. Porphyrius, an esteemed historical establishment in Gaza, was targeted on Thursday evening, 19 October, while providing refuge to numerous Palestinians affected by the ongoing conflict.

Religious authorities in the area have confirmed that it was struck by Israeli missiles.

The bombing killed 18 Christian Palestinians, as reported by the Palestinian Ministry of Health based in Gaza on Friday. The exact number of injured individuals remains unknown at this time.

In an email for the Washington Post, the Israeli Defense Forces stated that a strike aimed at a Hamas control center resulted in the “damage to a church wall.” Additionally, they acknowledge being “informed about potential casualties” and are currently examining the incident.

The original construction of The Church of St. Porphyrius dates back to the 5th century, while the present structure was erected in the 12th century.

The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem has vehemently denounced the Israeli airstrike on its church compound in Gaza city, emphasizing its unwavering dedicated to provide refuge for Palestinian civilians.

The Conflict So Far

After a surprise attack conducted on 7 October by Hamas on a number of southern Israeli towns which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,200 people and more than 200 being taken ‘hostage’ by Hamas, Israel launched a retaliatory bombing campaign against what it describes as ‘terrorist targets’ in the Gaza Strip.

So far, 3,300 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip — over 1,000 of them children — and 10,859 others injured. Meanwhile 62 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and 1,250 have been injured.

The priority of the Egyptian government since the beginning of the conflict has been deescalation and the securing of a path for aid to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing. Israel bombed the crossing at least four times, and despite agreements to let through aid, the infrastructure remains damaged and aid is yet to cross.

Most Western countries, with the United States at the forefront, have expressed unconditional support for Israel, despite the steadily rising death toll in Gaza. Meanwhile, Arab governments have called for an immediate ceasefire.

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