Gaza's Christians face subdued Easter Sunday amid Israel's bombs

Gaza's Christians face subdued Easter Sunday amid Israel's bombs
With Israel's war continuing to rage in Gaza, Christians in the strip face sombre Easter Sunday ceremonies, with festivities curtailed.
2 min read
05 May, 2024
Gaza's Orthodox Christians gather at the Church of Saint Porphyrius, which has been targeted by Israeli airstrikes before [Getty]

Gaza’s Orthodox Christians observed subdued Easter Sunday ceremonies amid the roar of Israeli warplanes and ongoing shelling of the besieged Palestinian enclave.

Celebrations were limited to around 100 Christian families at the Church of Saint Porphyrius in Gaza City, where they were confined to prayers and religious rituals without any of the typical festivities, Imad al-Sayegh, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Gaza Churches Union, told the Anadolu Agency.

Al-Sayegh, who, along with other Christian families, sought refuge at the Church of Saint Porphyrius in Gaza City's eastern district, noted that this year's Easter ceremonies were markedly different due to Israel’s devastating war on the territory.

“The sadness pervades the atmosphere inside the church, as it does outside, leaving no room for joy and celebration amidst the immense destruction, continuous shelling, and casualties,” he said.

The Sacred Holy Fire is traditionally transported from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in occupied Jerusalem to churches regionally and globally amid festive celebrations. However, this year Israel did not permit the entry of the Holy Fire into Gaza's churches.

Gaza is home to around 1,200 Christians, most of whom are Orthodox, out of a total population of approximately 2.3 million people.

Dozens of Christians are among the more than 34,600 Palestinians killed by Israel since 7 October. The war has also displaced over 1.7 million people, with many finding refuge in shelters, including churches targeted by Israel..

This includes the Church of Saint Porphyrius, one of the world’s oldest active churches, which was hit by an Israeli airstrike on October 19. At least 17 Palestinian Christians were killed among at least 600 people taking shelter at the church.

Live Story

On 13 December, a Christian mother and daughter were shot dead by an Israeli sniper in front of the Holy Family Church, Gaza’s only Catholic parish. Hundreds of people, both Christian and Muslim, were living in that church as well.

A few days later on 17 December, Israeli airstrikes hit the Young Men’s Christian Association in central Gaza, where 300 displaced people were sheltered, killing six people.