Church in Gaza Remains under Threat after Shooting Deaths

Parish compound suffered prior attacks, relative of trapped Christians says.

Nahida Khalil Anton and daughter Samar Kamal Anton were shot dead at Holy Family Church in Gaza City on Dec. 16, 2023. (Hammam Farah X post)

Nahida Khalil Anton and daughter Samar Kamal Anton were shot dead at Holy Family Church in Gaza City on Dec. 16, 2023. (Hammam Farah X post)

(Christian Daily International) – The killing of an elderly woman and her daughter in Gaza City’s Holy Family Church on Saturday (Dec. 16) was the sixth attack by Israeli Defense Forces on the compound since war in Gaza broke out, a relative told The Washington Post.

Following the IDF sniper fire that Catholic church sources say killed Nahida Khalil Anton and her daughter Samar Kamal Anton, the latter’s brother told The Washington Post that he and others present in the church building went out and saw his mother and sister lying face down.

“When we saw Samar, we all rushed to save her, and snipers opened fire on us, wounding my two children,” Issa Antoun told The Post by phone, according to a Dec. 18 article, adding that when the continued shooting of the IDF later slowed, they recovered the bodies and buried them in a church cemetery. “This is not the first time that the church has been targeted since the beginning of the war, but rather the sixth time. The patriarchate has asked for international protection for us, but as I speak to you, bulldozers are closing the church door, blocking it with a pile of cars that were on the street.”

British Member of Parliament Layla Moran, who has relatives in the last Catholic church building in Gaza where Christians have taken refuge from bombings, said today (Dec. 19) in a post on X (formerly Twitter) that IDF forces were still present at the compound. She quoted the daughter of one of her cousins inside the church building as saying, “Tanks still outside. Down to almost no provisions. I’ve been told food and water was delivered by the IDF but no sign of it yet. When will this nightmare end?”

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa on Saturday night (Dec. 16) issued a statement on the patriarch’s website disclosing that an IDF sniper killed the two Christian women on the church premises in the Shejayia area of Gaza City as they were walking to the Sister’s Convent building in the compound.

“Seven more people were shot and wounded as they tried to protect others inside the church compound,” Pizzaballa stated. “No warning was given, no notification was provided. They were shot in cold blood inside the premises of the Parish, where there were no belligerents.”

The BBC quoted a relative of a woman trapped inside the church building as saying her family had spent “a couple of hours” hiding on the ground of the compound because they believed Israeli forces “were shooting anything that moves.”

“They were terrified to go to the bathroom, because the women were shot trying to get to the toilet,” Fifi Saba told the BBC.

Moran told CNN that Hamas has never been present at the church compound.

“The assertion that Hamas is operating from that church is baseless,” she told CNN. “There are children there. The women who are killed, if anyone dares to look at the pictures, could not look less like Hamas fighters.”

The IDF on Sunday (Dec. 17) issued a statement to Fox News Digital acknowledging that “an incident took place” at the church compound.

“When reviewing incidents that may have taken place in the vicinity of churches in Gaza, it was found that an incident took place during yesterday afternoon (Saturday) in another area in Gaza, near the Latin Church in the Shejayia area,” the IDF spokesperson said in the statement. “An initial review suggests that IDF troops, who were operating against Hamas terrorists in the area, operated against a threat that they identified in the area of the church. The IDF is conducting a thorough review of the incident.”

Before the patriarchate had learned of the killings in the compound, church representatives had contacted the IDF regarding explosions heard near the parish, prompting the IDF to issue a prior statement reading, “No reports of a hit on the church, nor civilians being injured or killed, were raised. A review of the IDF’s operational findings support this.”

In the statement about the killings later on Saturday (Dec. 16), the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem also disclosed that a rocket from an IDF tank hit the Convent of the Sisters of Mother Teresa in the compound, where more than 54 people with disabilities reside.

“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,” Pizzaballa said in the statement. “Two more rockets, fired by an IDF tank, targeted the same Convent and rendered the home uninhabitable. The 54 disabled persons are currently and without access to the respirators that some of them need to survive.”

Three people in the church compound were wounded the previous night due to heavy bombing in the area, he said, and solar panels and water tanks were destroyed.

“We cannot but express that we are at a loss to comprehend how such an attack could be carried out, even more so as the whole Church prepares for Christmas,” Pizzaballa stated.

A Palestinian with relatives in the Holy Family Church, Hammam Farah, said in a post on X that about 530 Christians have taken refuge in the compound, 60 percent of them women and children.

Christians are said to have inhabited Gaza since the first century. Today there are fewer than 1,000 Christians estimated to remain in the strip, down from 3,000 when Hamas assumed complete control in 2007; the resulting Israeli blockade of Gaza led many Christians to flee the worsening poverty. 

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  1. Bro. Nick Nicholas says

    — IDF rebuffs accusations it killed two women at church in Gaza as investigation continues —
    – Fox News – Story by Bradford Betz – 1d –
    ‘Morning Star News’ would do well to confirm their report of the killing by IDF ‘Snipers’ of two Palestinean women who were followers of Roman Catholicism
    – for it is the “subtil” publishing of yet another anti\”Israel” ”””report””” like
    — Anti-Christian Incidents in Israel Condemned Hostilities against evangelicals seen during Feast of Booths. —
    – MsN – October 9, 2023 By Our Middle East Correspondent –
    I am a Biblical “Christian” (Acts 11:26 ~ Romans 10:8-13 ~ Ephesians 4 :4-6 ~AV~KJV) who continues to be very-very-very thankful unto “the LORD JEHOVAH” (Isaiah 26:3-4 ~AV) for all of “my brethren” “in Christ Jesus our Lord” all around the world who pray in accordance with “the words of truth” written in 1 Timothy 2:1-6 [AV] :
    [1] I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
    [2] For kings, and for all that are in authority;
    that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
    [3] For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
    [4] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
    [5] For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
    [6] Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
    ~~~> Titus 2:11-15 ~ Ephesians 2:5 ~ 1 John 3:13-14 [AV]

  2. Bro. Nick Nicholas says

    Ps — IDF again denies killing mother and daughter at Gaza church, cites Hamas fire in area —
    – Times of Israel – By TOI STAFF and AFP – Today, 1:15 pm (21 Dec 2023) –
    – Comment – s.paul – 8 hours ago
    How can this patriach know / be sure that it was an IDF sniper? Snipers shoot from long distances and from hidden positions. So I wonder how the shooter could be identified as an IDF soldier? And then the motive. Why should IDF kill two chistian women without any reason knowing what the public opinion fall out would be? Is it not more plausible that Hamas killed these women ( Christians are lesser then dogs to Hamas) hoping that the IDF would be blamed?
    Message for the Pope: do not believe everything Hamas controlled institutions , NGO ‘s and media report. All these actors have shared interests.

  3. Bro. Nick Nicholas says

    ===> Hezbollah missile injures 9 IDF soldiers rescuing elderly man in church But this attack by Hezbollah against a church has not been reported !

    • Bro. Nick Nicholas says

      — Why Do Christian Leaders Ignore Attacks on Their Community? — United with Israel – Jan 2, 2024 –
      – Excerpts
      {1} How is the silence on attacks against Christians connected to giving a green light to Islamist terrorist organizations?
      {2} As of this writing, no Christian leader had anything to say about Hezbollah’s missile attack on a church. –
      {3} On December 26, Iran’s Lebanese terror proxy Hezbollah attacked St. Mary’s Greek Catholic Church in Iqrit, northern Israel. An anti-tank guided missile fired from Lebanon directly hit the church, severely wounding an 85-year-old civilian.
      It is “the Lord Jesus Christ” who personally spoke “the words of truth” that are written in Matthew, Chapter 15 [AV]~[KJV] :
      [7] Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
      [8] This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
      [9] But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

      • Bro. Nick Nicholas says

        AND – About the ACTUAL and ongoing Persecution of Christians in “Israel”
        ~ Genesis 12:1-3 [AV]~[KJV]
        — Hamas and Hezbollah Attacks on Christians Being Ignored —
        – Jihad Watch – Jan 3, 2024 – By Hugh Fitzgerald – –
        – However – “the words of truth” are written in the Biblical WARNING in 1 John, Chapter 3 [AV] :
        [13] Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.
        [14] We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
        [15] Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

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