The following statement was released by Office of Public Relations at the The Holy Orthodox Order of Saint George the Great Martyr, Manchester, Connecticut, USA in regards to the bombing of St. Porphyrios Orthodox Church, Gaza City.
We have just received confirmation from multiple sources in Gaza that Saint Porphyrios Orthodox Church has been bombed today. Archbishop Alexios appears to have been located and is alive, but we don’t know if he is injured. We have no word on the condition of any other of the more than 500 people being housed at the church and monastery, including the person who has been our source for most of our information.
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. Our source at the scene says that they estimate that 150-200 people are dead, and that number is expected to rise as more people are found in the wreckage.
The Patriarch of Jerusalem has been made aware of the situation, and we are waiting for a statement from him soon.
As always, we will keep you updated as we know more.
Please pray for the repose of the souls who were killed in the bombing; for strength and healing of the injured; for mercy on everyone, including the perpetrators; and for peace in the Holy Land and an end to this devastating war. Let God arise! Let his enemies be scattered!
READ MORE: ‘War knows no religion’: Gaza’s oldest church shelters Muslims, Christians (Al Jazeera)
The Church of Saint Porphyrius has become a sanctuary for those displaced by Israeli bombing, across all faiths.
Any strike on the church “would not only be an attack on religion, which is a vile deed, but also an attack on humanity”, Father Elias said. “Our humanity calls us to offer peace and warmth to everyone in need.”
To Sobeh, the fact that families of different religions are together under the church’s roofs amid the trauma of the bombing is in itself an act of resistance.
“Israel’s purpose is to shatter our community and displace us,” she added, her voice shaking. “They might be able to kill us. But we will continue to be together as Palestinians, dead and alive, Muslims and Christians.”
READ MORE: Church of Saint Porphyrius (Wikipedia)
The Church of Saint Porphyrius or St. Porphyrius Church (Greek: Ιερός Ναός του Αγίου Πορφυρίου; Arabic: كنيسة القديس برفيريوس, romanized: Kanīsat al-Qadīs Burfīryūs) is a Greek Orthodox Christian church in Gaza City, State of Palestine, and the oldest active church in the city. Located in the Zaytun Quarter of the Old City of Gaza, it is named after the 5th-century bishop of Gaza, Saint Porphyrius, whose tomb is situated in the northeastern corner of the church. A church was built on the site as early as 425 AD.