For Palestinian Christians, a Sunday spent mourning civilians killed at a Gaza church

Christian churches across the Holy Land dedicated their Sunday services to victims of an Israeli airstrike that targeted a Greek Orthodox church in Gaza, killing more than a dozen people.

Context: In recent years, the Church of St. Porphyrius in Gaza City had thrived as a shelter amidst the continuous conflict between Israel and Gaza’s militants, including Hamas.
* Over the past two weeks, many Palestinians sought refuge in the church due to intensified Israeli airstrikes in retaliation to Hamas’ deadliest attack on Israeli civilians.

What they’re saying: The Israel Defense Forces clarified that their target was a building near the church allegedly used by Hamas as a command center.
* They stated, “The IDF can unequivocally state that the Church was not the target of the strike.”
* However, Rev. Fadi Diab, an Anglican minister based in Ramallah, voiced his objection, stating, “I don’t think that is an excuse to hit these places near a church where people are hiding.”

The Tragedy: At least 400 people were taking refuge at the church complex on Thursday, October 20, during which the fatal airstrike took place.
* 18 people were killed, all but one being Christian, which is close to 2% of Gaza’s Christian population.
* Among those killed were relatives of former U.S. Representative Justin Amash, who is of Palestinian descent.

Aftermath: Despite the catastrophe, hundreds of people continue to seek shelter at the church due to the ongoing conflict.
* Among the churches remembering those killed was the renowned Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where the patriarch of Jerusalem and All Palestine held a prayer service for the victims.

View original article on NPR

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