War crime? Israel bombs Greek Orthodox Gaza church sheltering displaced people

Written by Jeppe W

Oct.20 - 2023 2:54 PM CET

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

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In a tragic turn of events, the ancient Greek Orthodox Saint Porphyrius Church in Gaza City, known to offer sanctuary to both Christian and Muslim residents, was hit by an Israeli air attack.

Reports suggest a significant number of casualties among displaced individuals seeking refuge within the church's compound.

The Israeli military stated to AFP that the strike aimed at a command and control centre responsible for rocket and mortar attacks on Israel.

However, the attack resulted in severe damage to the church's façade and led to the collapse of an adjacent building. A large number of injured individuals have been rushed to nearby hospitals.

Multiple casulties

Gaza’s Hamas-run government reported that among the casualties were 18 Christian Palestinians. Witnesses to the attack mentioned that the air raid might have intended a target nearby this historic 12th-century church, where countless residents sought shelter amidst ongoing conflict.

The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem has strongly condemned the airstrike, terming the targeting of churches and the sanctuaries they offer as a potential "war crime."

In their defense, the Israeli military remarked that "Hamas intentionally embeds its assets in civilian areas and uses the residents of the Gaza Strip as human shields."

This incident comes amid a backdrop of escalating violence. Since October 7, following a Hamas attack, Israeli retaliation has led to the death of nearly 3,785 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the majority being civilians, as per the Hamas health ministry.