Two Christian girls – an aged mom and her daughter – had been shot useless by an Israeli soldier on the grounds of a Catholic church in Gaza Metropolis, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem has mentioned.
“Round midday [10:00 GMT] immediately … a sniper” of the Israeli military “murdered two Christian girls contained in the Holy Household Parish in Gaza” the place Christian households have been sheltering because the Israel-Hamas struggle broke out, the patriarchate mentioned in a statement on Saturday.
“Nahida and her daughter Samar had been shot and killed as they walked to the Sister’s Convent. One was killed as she tried to hold the opposite to security,” it mentioned.
The patriarchate highlighted that no warning was given earlier than the capturing began and added that “they had been shot in chilly blood contained in the premises of the Parish, the place there aren’t any belligerents.”
Seven extra individuals had been additionally wounded by gunfire as they tried to guard others, the assertion mentioned.
“This can be a focused dying marketing campaign throughout the Christmas season on the world’s oldest Christian group,” Hammam Farah, Nahida and Samar’s member of the family, mentioned in a press release on X.
This morning Israeli snipers shot and killed my two household mates in an assault on the Holy Household Catholic Church in Gaza.
Nahida (Um Emad Anton) and Samar, mom and daughter, had been strolling to the Sisters’ Convent to make use of the one toilet.
One was killed as she tried to… pic.twitter.com/ZtTxgsDrVf
— Hammam Farah (@hammam_therapy) December 17, 2023
Reporting from Rafah in southern Gaza, Al Jazeera’s Hani Mahmoud mentioned the church, which was accommodating Christians in Gaza, has been a goal of direct Israeli bombardment over the previous few days.
“Main elements of it have been destroyed. Snipers are capturing at each transferring object within the yard,” he added.
In its assertion, the patriarchate mentioned three projectiles fired by an Israeli tank had additionally struck a convent of the Sisters of Mom Teresa charity, destroying its generator and gasoline provides, and rendering a constructing housing 54 disabled individuals uninhabitable.
“The 54 disabled individuals are presently displaced and with out entry to the respirators that a few of them have to survive,” it added.
In keeping with the Vatican press company, the strikes wounded three individuals.
“The 800 remaining Christians in Gaza are on the verge of extinction. They’ve made life very tough for this group,” Mahmoud mentioned.
Who’re the Christians of Gaza?
Gaza’s Christians are one of many oldest communities within the Center East, courting again to the primary century.
Nonetheless, the variety of Christians in Gaza has dwindled lately. Right now there are solely roughly 1,000 left, a pointy drop from the three,000 registered in 2007, when Hamas assumed full management over the enclave.
In keeping with Kamel Ayyad, a spokesperson for the Church of Saint Porphyrius, which was lately bombed by Israel, the vast majority of the inhabitants is from Gaza itself.
The remaining arrived right here after the creation of the state of Israel, which displaced about 700,000 Palestinians – an occasion they discuss with because the Nakba, or “disaster”.
The Israeli blockade of Gaza following Hamas’s rise to energy in 2007 accelerated the flight of Christians from the poverty-stricken enclave.
“It’s change into very tough for individuals to reside right here,” mentioned Ayyad. “Most of the Christians left for the West Financial institution, for America, Canada or the Arab world, searching for higher training and well being.”
Whereas most of Gaza’s Christians belong to the Greek Orthodox religion, smaller numbers worship on the Catholic Holy Household Church and the Gaza Baptist Church.
‘Dwelling underneath siege’
After Saturday’s church assault, Italy’s high diplomat Antonio Tajani issued a “heartfelt attraction to the Israeli authorities and armed forces to guard Christian locations of worship”.
“That’s not the place the Hamas terrorists are hiding,” he mentioned on X.
Underneath the latest Israeli bombardments, Christians and Muslims alike sought refuge at a number of church buildings in Gaza like Saint Porphyrius.
However after this church was bombed, all of them moved to the close by Holy Household Church, situated 400 metres (1,300 ft) away, which has additionally been bombed now.
Israel has mentioned it’s wanting into what occurred on the Holy Household church on Saturday.
However dwelling underneath siege, Christians in Gaza attest to a spirit of solidarity that has united faiths of their battle for survival and their dream of freedom.
“We’re all Palestinians. We reside in the identical metropolis, with the identical struggling,” mentioned Ayyad.
“We’re all underneath siege and are all the identical.”