The protection of civilians and places of worship must be respected on all sides, it points out Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the victims of an attack on his monastery building Agios Porfirios in Gaza.

“We express our deep sorrow for the loss of life caused by a strike on a building adjacent to the monastery of Agios Porfirios in Gaza” it is emphasized.

The protection of civilians and the security of places of worship and religious institutions should be ensured and respected on all sides,” says Athens.

Hamas: “Dead in the area of ​​the church of Agios Porfirios”

The Interior Ministry of the Hamas government announced yesterday, Thursday, that many displaced Palestinians who had sought refuge in a church in Gaza City were killed and others injured following an Israeli airstrike.

In a statement, the ministry states that the raid “caused a large number of martyrs and injured” in the area of ​​the Greek Orthodox church of Agios Porphyrios.

Eyewitnesses said the Israeli strike appeared to target an area near the church, where many residents of Gaza City have sought refuge.

Israel: “Civilians become human shields”

The Israeli army admitted today that it carried out an airstrike in the area yesterday.

“Earlier today (yesterday, Thursday) Israeli military warplanes attacked the command and control center of a Hamas terrorist who had been involved in firing rockets and shells against Israel,” an army spokesman said.

This center “was used to launch attacks against Israel and there was a terrorist infrastructure of the terrorist organization Hamas”, he clarified.

“After the attack of the Israeli army, the wall of a church located in the area was damaged. We have been informed that there are reports of casualties and the process of confirming the incident has begun,” the spokesman noted.

The Patriarchate of Jerusalem condemned the Israeli raid

The Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem condemned “in the strongest terms the Israeli airstrike that hit the church site in Gaza City,” according to a statement on its website.

“The Patriarchate underlines that the targeting of churches, as well as the shelters they offer to protect innocent citizens, especially children and women who have lost their homes due to Israeli airstrikes against residential areas in the last 13 days, is a crime of war and cannot be ignored,” the statement added.

Agios Porphyrios is the oldest still active church in the Palestinian enclave. It is located in a historic quarter of old Gaza and, according to tradition, it houses the relics of Saint Porphyry, who was bishop of Gaza in the 5th century.

It is not far from the al-Ahli hospital that was hit on Tuesday night, killing 471 people, according to Hamas’ tally. The Islamist group blamed Israel for the massacre at the hospital, while the Israeli military denied responsibility and blamed the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The number of Christians in the Gaza Strip has declined in recent years. It is estimated that there are less than a thousand left (most of whom are Orthodox), while before Hamas took power in Gaza (2007), Christians numbered more than seven thousand.

He emphasized that “Hamas is deliberately placing itself in populated areas with civilians and using the residents of the Gaza Strip as human shields”, while repeating the request of the Israeli army to evacuate the northern part of the enclave.

According to eyewitnesses, the front of the church and an adjacent building were damaged by the airstrike. As the eyewitnesses added, many injured were taken to the hospital.