Gaza, The Gulf Observer: At least two women have been killed and many other civilians wounded in an Israeli attack on Saint Porphyrius Greek Orthodox Church in besieged Gaza, the Palestinian news agency WAFA said.
Palestinian Interior Ministry reported multiple casualties, calling it a “new massacre”. The ministry said several displaced people had taken shelter at the church compound when Israeli warplanes targeted it.
The strike left a “large number of martyrs and injured” at the compound, the ministry said.
Witnesses said the strike damaged the facade of the church and caused an adjacent building to collapse, adding that many wounded people were evacuated to hospital.
Abu Selmia, the Shifa Hospital director general, said dozens were hurt at the Church of Saint Porphyrios but could not give a precise death toll because bodies were buried under rubble.
A survivor told Qatar’s Al Jazeera Arabic television that there was no warning from the Israeli military beforehand.
Saint Porphyrius is the oldest church still in use in Gaza and is located in the city’s historic neighbourhood.
The Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem expressed its “strongest condemnation” of the Israeli strike at its church compound.
“Targeting churches and their institutions, along with the shelters they provide to protect innocent citizens, especially children and women who have lost their homes due to Israeli air strikes on residential areas over the past 13 days, constitutes a war crime that cannot be ignored,” the Patriarchate said in a statement.
The Patriarchate stressed that it will not abandon its religious and humanitarian duty, rooted in its Christian values, “to provide all that is necessary in times of war and peace alike.”