HOLY LAND: 22 Christians dead in Gaza and unexploded rocket found in parish

Explosions around the Holy Family Church in Gaza.
Explosions around the Holy Family Church in Gaza.

Out of the 1,000 Christians living in Gaza, 22 have died since the war began, and today an unexploded missile was found near a church, according to local sources.

An airstrike killed 17 Christians sheltering in the Orthodox Church of Saint Porphyrius on 19th October, and five others have died from the lack of medical care.

This morning (12th December) an unexploded rocket was discovered on the boundaries of the Holy Family parish complex, where most of Gaza’s Christians have taken refuge, a local source told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

ACN’s source said: “Imagine the level of trauma among children and all the people there in case it explodes.

“It is impossible to dismantle it unless the Israeli army itself intervenes.”

ACN reported yesterday (11th December) that the Holy Family Church – the only Catholic church in Gaza – and its associated parish buildings were damaged in an airstrike and ran out of fuel, leaving them without electricity.

Local sources also said that many Christian families have lost their homes and all their possessions since the beginning of the war.

A Christian living in Gaza who wished to be known as G. A. said that, when the ceasefire was declared on day 48 of the war, “it was an opportunity to move around and go check on our home.

“It was devastating to see that our apartment, which is on the top floor of a four-storey family-owned building, is completely destroyed, with only one room remaining.

“We collected a few items and returned to the safety of the church complex waiting for an end to this ugly war so that we can begin the process of rebuilding our lives.”

ACN has helped Christians sheltering at the Holy Family Church purchase food items and medicines.

G. A. expressed his gratitude to the charity’s benefactors who have made this aid possible, saying: “The support provided to sustain our lives during this time of need is very much appreciated.”

Another Christian from Gaza, known as J. M., recalled: “On the 27th day of the war, word was received that our neighbourhood was attacked.

“I waited until the shelling subsided a bit and I went to check on our building – which included several other Christian families as well – only to find out that the whole residential building was completely demolished and there [was] nothing remaining.

“Everything we owned, including all my childhood memories, has become history.”

J. M. added: “I returned to the church and broke the news to my parents and the other Christian families who have been taking refuge with us.

“The next day, I took the key off my keychain, as I no longer need it to go home.”

ACN has also provided support for Christians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Vicariate for Migrants and Asylum Seekers, most of whom work in the tourism sector and have lost their livelihoods since pilgrimages and holidays in the Holy Land have been cancelled.

The emergency aid includes medical support and help with basic living costs, such as food and accommodation.


With thanks to Filipe d’Avillez and Maria Lozano