Text said 'evacuate' but Gaza parish staff had nowhere to go

Safe in Greek Orthodox church

When the staff at the lone Catholic parish in the Gaza Strip received Israeli text warnings to evacuate the premises, that was easier said than done, reports the Catholic News service.

Father Raed Abusahlia, president of Caritas Jerusalem who has been in contact with the parish priest, said Father Jorge Hernandez of the Institute of the Incarnate Word and three nuns who live at the parish had nowhere to evacuate the 29 severely disabled children and nine elderly women in their care. 

Since Israel launched airstrikes against Gaza on July 8, it has sent text messages to citizens to evacuate if they were near a target. Israel bombed near Holy Family Catholic Church yesterday morning.

The Vatican's Fides news agency, citing details from Father Hernandez, said the main target of the bombing was a home a few metres away from the parish. The home was completely destroyed, and the parish school, office and some rooms used by the parish were partially destroyed.

Father Abusahlia told CNS all the windows of the whole compound, as well as that of the Greek Orthodox Church, already were shattered from previous bombings of buildings around them. 'They are in a very difficult situation,' said Father Abusahlia. 'It is a very dangerous area.'

He said the number of refugees at the parish school, some distance away from the parish compound, increased from 600 people to 1,400 in this week, and the number of refugees sheltered by the Greek Orthodox Church had increased from 1,400 to 1,900.

FULL STORY Text said to evacuate, but Gaza parish staff had nowhere to go

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