Following attacks on Christians in the Gaza Strip by Israeli forces on Saturday, including the reported killing of two women, the Israeli Defence Forces said that it “takes claims regarding harm to sensitive sites with the utmost seriousness”. Source: NCR Online.
However, the statement did not make any mention of the reported shooting deaths of the two women in the Holy Family Parish premises.
In a heartfelt appeal during an Angelus prayer on Sunday, Pope Francis called for an end to the “terrorism” of war, condemning the previous day’s attack in which, according to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, an Israeli army sniper shot and killed Nahida Khalil Anton, and her daughter, Samar Kamal Anton, as they walked to a convent at the Holy Family Parish compound in Gaza. The convent of the Missionaries of Charity also was targeted.
The Israeli Defense Forces said in a statement on Sunday, “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 Israeli military said it “is conducting a thorough review” of what it called “the incident.”
The statement also said the Israeli military received a letter from the Latin Patriarchate on Saturday describing a “tragic incident” following explosions heard near the church.
“During the dialogue between the IDF and representatives of the community, 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,” the Israeli military’s statement said.
Meanwhile, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Monday the administration “raised specific concerns” about the reported killing of the women, CNA reports. Mr Kirby added that White House is confident that the Israelis “are not making the slaughter, torture, and rape of civilians in Gaza a war aim”.
Israeli army denies targeting Gaza church where Pope Francis says ‘unarmed civilians’ were ‘targets’ (By Judith Sudilovsky, OSV News via NCR Online)
White House raises concerns with Israel about killings at Catholic church in Gaza (By Peter Pinedo, CNA)