On Tuesday, the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem attributed responsibility to Israel for the overnight bombing of its cultural center in Gaza City. It strongly condemned what it described as a “direct and unjustified attack.”
“This attack represents a stark embodiment of Israel’s unwarranted determination to destroy the civil infrastructure and social service centers, as well as shelters for civilians trapped in the besieged enclave,” the church said in a statement.
An AFP journalist saw the ruins of the Orthodox cultural center and school in Gaza City, with smoke still rising from the rubble.
The Israeli military did not immediately comment on the strike when contacted by AFP.
Israel has bombarded the Palestinian territory since the October 7 attacks by Hamas militants, which killed around 1,400 people, according to Israeli officials.
More than 8,500 people have been killed in Gaza, the health ministry in the Hamas-controlled territory said in its latest toll.
A resident living near the Orthodox cultural center told AFP he “woke up to this destruction.”
“This church (property) has been targeted by missiles, what’s in it? Why is all this happening?” asked Hassan Abu Mersa.
The Patriarchate said 19 places of worship, including churches and mosques, have been hit by Israeli strikes since October 7.
Several people were killed on October 20 while they were sheltering in the compound of Saint Porphyrius Church, the oldest church still in use in Gaza, when it was hit by Israeli bombardment.