CV NEWS FEED // At least 18 Christians were killed during an attack in Gaza last night, after Israeli air strikes led to the collapse of a building in the compound of the Greek Orthodox Church.
According to Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic organization for war refugees, the collapse of the building trapped another 15 Christians under the debris. ACN also reported that several young Christian youth missionaries, as well as 10 members from one family, were among those killed by the collapse.
Reuters reported that the Israeli government gave families staying in the compound a half-hour warning to evacuate before striking.
Around 400 refugees, mostly Christians, have been staying in the Greek Orthodox compound since the beginning of the war. ACN said that 500 more Christians are staying in a nearby Catholic church that was also hit by stun bombs Thursday night. Refugees from the ruined Greek Orthodox compound are now heading to the Catholic church, despite the church already being at full capacity.
Reuters also reported that there are an estimated 1,000 Christians living in Gaza. According to Palestinian health officials, nearly 3,800 people in Gaza have been killed by Israeli strikes and over one million have been made homeless.
As reported by CatholicVote, Christians in Gaza have defied orders from the Israeli military to move south, choosing to stay in place due to the dangers of being targeted while traveling.
Sister Nabila Saleh, a nun in Gaza in direct contact with Pope Francis, told ACN earlier this week that she is among those refusing to move.
“We will not go. People have nothing, not even basic things,” she said. “Where should we go? To die in the street? We have elderly people, the Missionaries of Charity are also here, with people with multiple disabilities and elderly. Where should we go?”
Fr. Gabriel Romanelli, a priest serving at a Catholic church in Gaza, also said earlier this week that it is impossible to leave. According to him, Christians in Gaza believe that “they are safer with Jesus.”
“And that is why together they pray… and hope that the Lord will protect them and that the people who are working and praying for peace will change the decision to strike the church which has always been an oasis of peace,” he told ACN on October 18.
According to ACN, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, believes that “fervent prayer has the power to give the faithful caught in the war zone a sense that they are not alone, no matter how dark the situation is at present.”