Two women were shot dead by snipers in the church grounds of the Catholic Holy Family parish in Gaza City, on December 16, according to a press release by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, sent to the international charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). Seven other people were injured. On the same day, several projectiles hit the convent of the Missionaries of Charity, which is in the same compound and housed more than 50 people with disabilities.
According to project partners of ACN, the two women killed are Samar Anton and her mother Nahida. Both were fatally injured when they tried to get to safety in a parish building. The Latin Patriarchate stated that the snipers were Israeli military. “Seven more people were shot and wounded as they tried to protect others inside the church compound”, the statement continues.
No access to ventilators
Several rocket attacks destroyed, among other things, the power generator in the aforementioned convent, causing a fire and rendering the building uninhabitable. The Mother Teresa Sisters and the 54 people with disabilities they cared for, were able to get to safety, but “are currently displaced and without access to the respirators that some of them need to survive”, the patriarchate writes. The events are particularly disturbing in view of upcoming Christmas.
Furthermore, local contacts told ACN that on Thursday two workmen who were attempting to repair the water tanks of the parish building, which had been damaged by explosions, were shot by snipers and died of their injuries. One contact wrote to ACN: “Please intensify your prayers for us. God alone knows how to help.”
Help for Christians in Israel and the Palestinian Territories
Holy Family is the only Catholic parish in the Gaza Strip, currently several hundred Christians are sheltering in the church grounds, including children, senior citizens and people with disabilities. The Christian population of Gaza before the war was estimated at around 1,000.
In cooperation with the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, ACN is supporting the Christian community in Gaza in the procurement of food and medicine. In addition to this, ACN is aiding the Christians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, who have also been affected by the consequences of the war, as well as Christian migrant workers in Israel.