PCOM October 21, 2023

Operation Al-Aqsa Flood “Taufan” Daily Report (14)

Relentless Israeli Aggression in Gaza: Tragedy Unfolds, Historic Church Targeted

Israeli forces continue their relentless aggression on the Gaza Strip for the fourteenth consecutive day, with a focus on residential areas and civilian facilities, resulting in widespread violence and devastating casualties among Palestinian families. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry’s recent report on Friday, the death toll in Gaza has surpassed 4,100, and the number of wounded individuals now exceeds 13,000. These figures represent a catastrophic increase from the previous day when the death toll stood at 3,800. Simultaneously, in the West Bank, the Ministry reported that the total number of Palestinians killed by Israeli gunfire since October 7 has reached 81, with 13 lives lost in a single day between Thursday and Friday in Tulkarm’s Nour Shams camp, including five children.

The Gaza Strip has witnessed a devastating series of attacks, with the Israeli occupation being accused of embarking on a campaign that poses a grave threat to the minority Christian population there, estimated to be around 1,000 people. One of the most alarming incidents involved the bombing of a 1,700-year-old church, one of the oldest in the region. This act not only targeted a religious site but also the sanctuary where civilian refugees sought safety. The attack resulted in numerous injuries and casualties, including the loss of entire families. The Greek Orthodox Monastery of Saint Porphyrius, housing individuals from various religious backgrounds, was a place of refuge for hundreds. Tragically, this underscores the indiscriminate nature of the Israeli occupation’s attacks on residential structures, pushing the residents of Gaza to seek safety in churches, mosques, and schools, only to witness these sanctuaries being bombed.

The Ministry of Interior in Gaza has officially reported a distressing incident where Israeli occupation forces executed a devastating attack, resulting in the loss of lives and injuries to a considerable number of displaced individuals inside the historic Greek Orthodox Church of St. Porphyrius in Gaza City. The occupation forces deliberately aimed at this ancient church situated on Omar al-Mukhtar Street in the Gaza Strip, causing substantial damage to both the church and an adjacent structure. Of historical significance, the Church of St. Porphyrius, dating back to 425 AD and renovated in 1856, holds the distinction of being the third oldest church globally. The Ministry emphasized that the church had offered sanctuary to numerous displaced people, primarily women and children, contributing to the deepening humanitarian crisis in the region.

Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Sebastia in occupied al-Quds, Atallah Hanna, decried the bombing of the church as a new massacre by the Israeli occupation and an attack on Christian heritage. He emphasized that the occupation’s actions were targeting the Christian presence not only in Gaza but across all of Palestine, where Christians are an integral part of the community. Archbishop Hanna urgently called on religious leaders, including His Holiness the Pope, and church leaders worldwide to take a clear and explicit stance in support of the people of Gaza who are suffering due to Israeli attacks. He criticized the West for its support of Israel’s actions and called on every free person and Arab to act immediately to halt the ongoing aggression, stating that the situation in Gaza constitutes more than just a war; it is a genuine catastrophe. Archbishop Hanna also highlighted the arrest of Palestinian youths who expressed support for Gaza online and stressed the importance of countering efforts to manipulate the image of Palestine on social media. He noted that Palestinians are more united than ever in the face of Israeli aggression, and there is growing global awareness of the situation, regardless of their governments’ stances.

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