HOLY LAND: Gaza – two dead, seven injured in latest attack on Church complex

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

Two more civilians were killed by sniper fire in the grounds of Holy Family Church in Gaza City last weekend.

Local Church partners told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that two women, Samar Anton and her mother Nahida, were fatally injured on Saturday (16th December) as they tried to reach safety after shooting began. Seven others were wounded.

According to a strong statement issued by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, they were killed by an IDF (Israel Defense Forces) sniper: “No warning was given, no notification was provided. They were shot in cold blood inside the premises of the parish, where there are no belligerents.”

Samar Anton and her mother Nahida (left), who were shot dead.

ACN was also told that two workmen were also shot by a sniper on Thursday (14th December) as they repaired the parish water tanks, which had been damaged by shrapnel from military strikes. They later died of their injuries.

One Church partner begged ACN: “Please intensify your prayers for us. God alone knows how to help.”

Earlier on Saturday (16th December), the Missionaries of Charity’s convent was hit by a rocket.

According to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem: “The convent is home to over 54 disabled persons and is part of the church compound, which was signalled as a place of worship since the beginning of the war. 

“The building’s generator (the source of electricity) and the fuel resources were destroyed, the house was damaged by the resulting explosion and massive fire.

“Two more rockets, fired by an IDF tank, targeted the same convent and rendered the home uninhabitable.

“The 54 disabled persons are currently displaced and without access to the respirators that some of them need to survive.”

Speaking on LBC’s Breakfast Programme this morning (18th December), Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy told presenter Nick Ferrari that he disputed the claims made by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

He said: “Unfortunately, we know that Hamas has a long and documented history of hiding inside sensitive sites, including religious sites, and that is, of course, one of the things that will have to be investigated.

“But a review of the operational findings, simply does not support the allegations presented in that letter from the Latin Patriarchate.”

After the Angelus in St Peter’s Square yesterday, Pope Francis said: “I continue receiving very serious and sad news about Gaza. Unarmed civilians are targets for bombs and gunfire.

“And this has happened even within the parish complex of the Holy Family, where there are no terrorists, but families, children, people who are sick and have disabilities, sisters.

“Some are saying, ‘This is terrorism and war’. Yes, it is war, it is terrorism. That is why Scripture says that ‘God puts an end to war…the bow he breaks and the spear he snaps.’ Let us pray to the Lord for peace.”

ACN is supporting the provision of food and medicine for the Christian community in Gaza – as well as helping Christians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and Christian migrant workers in Israel affected by the conflict.


With thanks to Tobias Lehner