12/16/2023, 11.49
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Gaza: parish attack kills two Christian women. Fr. Ibrahim: 'Madness'

by Dario Salvi

The victims are said to be mother and daughter, at least five wounded one of them seriously. The attack is reportedly still in progress, snipers opening fire indiscriminately. Earlier heavy shelling in the area, also hit the house of Mother Teresa's nuns. Behind the assault the (unfounded) rumors of a missile launcher hidden inside the parish yards.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - "A horrible thing, we all feel terrible, Fr. Ibrahim Faltas,  of the Franciscan Custody and director of the Christian schools of the Holy Land, confirms by phone to AsiaNews the killing of two Christian women in the compound of the Latin parish of the Holy Family in Gaza, whose only "fault" was that they were "crossing the road." Both, in fact, wanted to go to the other side to go to the nuns' building "and were shot and killed."

"A madness," adds Fr. Ibrahim, "in the context of a terrible situation, of people who no longer have a roof, live in a convent and are targeted" through no fault of their own. "This is how we are preparing to live Christmas."

A note released in these minutes by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem confirms the attack on Christians. "Around noon today an IDF [Israeli army] sniper killed two women," reads the statement, sent to AsiaNews by Gaza parish priest Fr. Gabriel Romanelli, "inside the Holy Family parish in Gaza. Nahida and Samar, those are the names of the mother and daughter, "were shot and killed" by a sniper who also allegedly shot and killed other people passing through the area. The two women "were killed in cold blood inside the walls of the parish, where there are no fighters or militiamen," charges the patriarchate.

Christians are being targeted in Gaza, where the Israeli army is conducting a military operation in the area of the Holy Family parish that came under attack, directly targeting worshippers inside. At the moment, the provisional death toll is two, reported by some sources to be a mother and daughter. They are Nahida Khalil Pauls Anton "Umm Emad"" and her daughter Samar Kamal Anton, who were hit by bullets from Israeli snipers.

The mother died under the military's shots and the daughter was reportedly killed while trying to rescue the elderly woman; in addition to the two victims already confirmed there are also several wounded, at least seven according to patriarchate sources, one of whom is in very serious condition.

Earlier, Israeli tanks opened fire at the home of Mother Teresa's sisters, which houses 54 people with disabilities who are now displaced "and without a place to stay," the patriarchal note stressed, "destroying the generator" and causing other damage; one nun was wounded in the leg.

Witnesses report that the Israeli military allegedly attacked because of the alleged presence- patently unfounded-of a rocket-shooting vehicle inside the parish, which is located in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City.

The parish remains under attack, with snipers opening fire on people in the area in an escalation of violence and terror that is taking place as much in the north as in the south of the now-conflict-torn Strip. 

Earlier in the night, the Israeli army had struck with heavy shelling in the surrounding area, causing severe panic among the hundreds of people welcomed inside since the beginning of the military offensive in response to the Oct. 7 Hamas attack. Local sources report that the parish is still under attack and, in spite of the intervention of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the military is reportedly unwilling to halt operations.

Soldiers inside the Latin parish compound in Gaza are reportedly opening fire on civilians, targeting fleeing and unarmed people. The community is panicking, particularly among the younger and elderly among the more than 700 people who have been housed inside for two months. During this critical period, the Latin parish has also helped Muslim families by sharing not only the suffering but also the little aid available.

For Gaza's Christians, a Christmas of "anguish" and "bloodshed" lies ahead, as Gaza parish priest Fr. Gabriel Romanelli recounted yesterday. The war against Hamas terrorists launched by Israel ended up affecting even defenseless Christian civilians. "We do not understand how this attack is being conceived," the patriarchate's note concludes, "all the more so now that the Church is preparing for the Christmas holidays. 

(Pictured, taken from the Gaza pastor's Facebook page, are the two Christian victims)

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