WCC condemns attack on building adjacent to St Porphyrios Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza

WCC condemns attack on building adjacent to St Porphyrios Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is condemning an attack on one of the buildings within the compound of the St Porphyrios Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza. The building—affiliated with the church, which is one the oldest churches in Gaza—has collapsed in the explosion, caused by Israeli missile strikes, according to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.

Reports from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate indicate a large number of people injured—some seriously injured—among refugees Christians and Muslim families who were taking shelter in the church, located adjacent to the destroyed building. 

“Unlike reports of a similar attack a week ago, this one has been confirmed by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in a statement,” said Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay, WCC general secretary. “Our prayers go out for healing to all those wounded, along with our condolences to Patriarch Theophilos II and all our Greek Orthodox brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Pillay said: “We condemn this unconscionable attack on a sacred compound and call upon the world community to enforce protections in Gaza for sanctuaries of refuge, including hospitals, schools, and houses of worship.”

In a statement released 19 October, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem stressed that “targeting churches and its affiliated institutions, in addition to the shelters they provide to protect innocent citizens, especially children and women who lost their homes as a result of the Israeli bombing of residential areas during the past thirteen days, constitutes a war crime that cannot be ignored.”

The statement continues: “The Patriarchate indicated that despite the clear exposure to the facilities and shelters of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and other churches, the Baptist Hospital, schools and other social institutions, it, along with the rest of the churches, is determined to continue performing its religious and moral duty by providing assistance, support and shelter to people who need it, even amid the demands. The Israeli side continues to evacuate civilians from these institutions, and the pressures exerted on the churches in this regard.” Pillay said, “we are pleased that the Patriarchate is not deterred by the current circumstances and will continue to offer support, care and ministry to all people who are suffering the disastrous effects of war and violence. We pray for continued strength and hope and that all the powers that be will work towards an immediate cessation of the continued attacks on innocent civilians, and above all dialogue for just peace in Palestine and Israel.”