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Here’s what we know about Israel’s strike on Gaza church

Here’s what we know so far about Israel’s airstrike on Gaza’s oldest church
3 min read
Israeli airstrikes hit a Greek Orthodox church in Gaza believed to be the third oldest in the world and reportedly killed scores of Christians and Muslims sheltering there.
Palestinian Christians mourned the loss of their loved ones after the Israeli strike [Getty]

Late on Thursday, scores of people were killed or injured in an Israeli airstrike on a church in Gaza, where an estimated 500 Palestinian Christians and Muslims were seeking shelter from Israel’s ongoing bombardment of the enclave. 

Less than 48 hours after the reported Israeli airstrike on the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital on Tuesday, which resulted in the deaths of at least 471 healthcare workers and patients, another strike hit the Greek Orthodox Saint Porphyrius Church in Gaza City and those who sought refuge in it. 

The Palestinian interior ministry said that the strike left a "large number of martyrs and injured".

The strike was also geolocated and its location at the church was confirmed based on a video that surfaced on X, formerly known as Twitter, which saw people digging through the rubble of a dismantled building in Gaza, The Washington Post reported. 

Saint Porphyrius is the oldest church in the world which is still in use, and was originally built around 425 AD and named after Saint Porphyrius, who served as Gaza’s bishop from 395 to 420. 

It was built shortly after his death in 425 AD and has been a well-known site of Christian worship in the region for more than 1,500 years. 


The Order of St. George issued a press release confirming the attack and estimated it had taken the lives of "150-200 people" so far with the death toll expected to rise.  

"The bombs hit the two church halls where the refugees, including children and babies, were sleeping. Presently, survivors are searching the rubble for other casualties," the statement read. 

The number of casualties has yet to be independently verified. The Israeli armya alleged it was targeting a "Hamas controlled centre" and "damaged the wall of a church in the area".  

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The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem expressed "its strongest condemnation of the Israeli airstrike" in an online statement

"The Patriarchate emphasizes that targeting churches and their institutions, along with the shelters they provide to protect innocent citizens, especially children and women who have lost their homes due to Israeli airstrikes on residential areas over the past thirteen days, constitutes a war crime that cannot be ignored," the statement read. 

Witnesses said damage inside the church was extensive, Reuters reported. 

"This shows that the targets of the Israeli occupation are the unarmed people, children, women and the elderly," the Palestinian Churches Council said in a statement. 

Israel has relentlessly and indiscriminately bombed densely populated Gaza, flattening buildings and destroying infrastructure, since Hamas attacked southern Israel on 7 October. 

The Euro-Med Human Rights monitor said on Friday that 52,000 out of 260,000 buildings in Gaza had been damaged by Israeli strikes.

More than 4,137 people in Gaza - including over 1,500 children have been killed, while 13,000 have been injured and more than a million made homeless, according to Palestinian health officials.  

Civilians say their situation is desperate as they run short of food, water, fuel, and medical supplies after Israel imposed a complete siege on the enclave.