TWO WOMEN sheltering in the Church of the Holy Family compound in Gaza were killed by Israeli snipers on 16 December.
Early in the morning Israeli rockets caused a huge explosion and fire at the convent run by Mother Teresa’s sisters which cares for 54 disabled people. They are now homeless. Israeli rocket fire also destroyed the electricity generator, solar panels and water tanks.
Cardinal Pizzaballa, from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem has issued this statement:
“Around noon today, December 16, 2023 a sniper of the IDF murdered two Christian women inside the Holy Family Parish in Gaza, where the majority of Christian families has taken refuge since the start of the war. Nahida and her daughter Samar were shot and killed as they walked to the Sister’s Convent. One was killed as she tried to carry the other to safety. Seven more people were shot and wounded as they tried to protect others inside the church compound. No warning was given, no notification was provided. They were shot in cold blood inside the premises of the Parish, where there are no belligerents.
“Earlier in the morning, a rocket fired from an IDF tank targeted the Convent of the Sisters of Mother Theresa (Missionaries of Charity). The Convent is home to over 54 disabled persons and is part of the church compound, which was signalled as a place of worship since the beginning of the war. The building’s generator (the only source of electricity) and the fuel resources were destroyed. The house was damaged by the resulting explosion and massive fire. Two more rockets, fired by an IDF tank, targeted the same Convent and rendered the home uninhabitable. The 54 disabled persons are currently displaced and without access to the respirators that some of them need to survive.
“In addition, as a result of the heavy bombing in the area, three people were wounded inside the church compound last night. Furthermore, solar panels and water tanks, which are indispensable for the survival of the community, were destroyed.
“Together in prayer with the whole Christian community, we express our closeness and condolences to the families affected by this senseless tragedy. At the same time, we cannot but express that we are at a loss to comprehend how such an attack could be carried out, even more so when the whole Church prepares for Christmas.
“The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem follows this developing situation with great concern and shall provide additional information as needed.”
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales commented: “I am heartbroken at the information provided by Cardinal Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, of killings in the Church compound of the Catholic Parish of the Holy Family in Gaza City. I have immediately sent a message to His Eminence, expressing my horror at these events and assuring him of the prayers of Catholics in England and Wales.
“I have twice been warmly welcomed to this parish by its people. They are a remarkable community of faith and genuine service to their neighbours. Together with the dedicated Religious Sisters, they have continued to provide shelter and sustenance to many people during these weeks of warfare. They are a people who yearn for peace.
“The information provided by the Cardinal, gives a picture of seemingly deliberate and callous killing by IDF soldiers of innocent civilians: an elderly woman and her daughter in the grounds of a church. This killing has to stop. It can never be justified.
“I ask all people of faith and goodwill to continue to pray for an end to this conflict by all sides.”
Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy at CAFOD, which is funding some of the work to support families seeking refuge at the compound, said: “Having provided refuge many times to those sheltering from Gaza’s violence, whether to Christians or those from other religions, the Holy Family compound is a place of sanctuary and should have been respected as such. It’s because it’s such a long-standing and well recognised place of worship in the area that today’s reports are all the more shocking.
“If the relentless tide of tragic news coming from the region tells us anything, it’s that no true and lasting peace can be achieved for either side through indiscriminate killing and continued warfare. We urge all those with influence to join their voices with that of Pope Francis in calling for an immediate ceasefire and the release of all hostages.”
* Source: Independent Catholic News