News, Holy Land 19 Dec 2023

Gaza City: Two dead and seven injured in attacks on Church grounds

Two women were shot and killed by snipers in the church grounds of the Catholic Holy Family parish in Gaza City on December 16, as reported in a press release by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem sent to the international charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). Seven other individuals were injured. On the same day, several projectiles struck the convent of the Missionaries of Charity, located in the same compound and housing over 50 people with disabilities.

According to ACN's project partners, the two women identified as Samar Anton and her mother Nahida were fatally injured while attempting to seek refuge in a parish building. The Latin Patriarchate asserted that the snipers responsible were from the Israeli military. The statement continued, stating that "seven more people were shot and wounded as they tried to protect others inside the church compound."

In addition to the tragic events, several rocket attacks, including one that destroyed the power generator in the mentioned convent, led to a fire, rendering the building uninhabitable. The Mother Teresa Sisters and the 54 people with disabilities under their care managed to find safety. However, they are currently displaced and lack access to the ventilators that some of them require to survive, as noted by the patriarchate. These distressing events are particularly impactful in light of the approaching Christmas season.

Furthermore, local contacts informed ACN that on Thursday, two workers attempting to repair the water tanks of the parish building—damaged by explosions—were shot by snipers and succumbed to their injuries. One contact expressed in a message to ACN: "Please intensify your prayers for us. God alone knows how to help."

The Holy Family is the sole Catholic parish in the Gaza Strip, with several hundred Christians, including children, senior citizens, and individuals with disabilities, currently seeking shelter in the church grounds. The Christian population in Gaza, estimated at around 1,000 before the war, faces significant challenges.

In collaboration with the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, ACN is actively supporting the Christian community in Gaza by facilitating the procurement of food and medicine. Additionally, ACN is extending assistance to Christians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, who have also been affected by the consequences of the war, along with Christian migrant workers in Israel.

The Mass is the most effective prayer that could be said on behalf of those who have died. ACN can arrange recurring annual Masses for your dearly departed loved ones.

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