World Council of Churches Supports Greek Orthodox Patriarchate Amidst Destruction in Gaza


The World Council of Churches (WCC) has expressed its support for the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem following the recent destruction of its Orthodox Cultural Centre in Gaza.

The center, which provided shelter for approximately 500 people, was subjected to an Israeli military attack during the night between Monday and Tuesday in the Tel Al-Hawa neighborhood, located in the southern part of the blockaded Gaza Strip.

While there were no fatalities, all of the belongings of internally displaced persons (IDPs), including blankets, food supplies, and gas cylinders, were buried in the debris.

The Israeli air assault on St. Porphyrios compound This incident occurred nearly two weeks after the Israeli air raid on the St. Porphyrios Greek Orthodox Church compound in Gaza on October 19, resulting in the loss of 18 lives and injuries to several others. The remaining civilians who had sought refuge in the compound are now being hosted in the adjacent Holy Family Catholic Church, which currently houses around 700 people.

In a statement, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem vehemently condemned this second attack on one of its buildings, emphasizing that "social, cultural, and sports centers have become essential providers of humanitarian services and safe havens for those affected by Israeli airstrikes targeting residential areas."

An unwarranted assault The Patriarchate further asserted that the assault on the center and its service facilities "constitutes a direct and unjustified attack on one of the key pillars of culture and social services in Gaza." It expressed "serious concern" that, since the onset of the conflict, the Israeli military has targeted 19 places of worship in Gaza, including mosques and churches.

"Such attacks on civilians, particularly children, and the deliberate destruction of civilian infrastructure, cannot be justified on rational or humanitarian grounds and are fundamentally at odds with even the most basic moral values," the statement read. It once again urged the "immediate and comprehensive ceasefire in the Gaza Strip."

The appeal was echoed by the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Jerry Pillay, who expressed solidarity with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.

WCC: attacks on civilians violate international law "Attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure are clear violations of international law," stated Rev. Pillay. "We stand with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the many voices around the world calling for the protection of places of refuge and an end to the harm and loss of innocent lives."

Since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas conflict nearly four weeks ago, following Hamas' violent actions in Israel on October 7, the death toll has surpassed 10,000, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources.

On the Israeli side, more than 1,400 people, primarily civilians killed during Hamas' initial attack, have lost their lives, while 19 Israeli soldiers have been killed in Gaza since the start of the ground operation. The Palestinian death toll has risen to over 9,000.

Discussions regarding a ceasefire or a "humanitarian pause" Up to this point, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected growing calls for a ceasefire, asserting that it would be a "surrender" to Hamas.

U.S. and Arab leaders have intensified pressure on Israel to alleviate the blockade of Gaza and, at the very least, temporarily halt its attacks to provide assistance to civilians. U.S. President Joe Biden has proposed a humanitarian "pause" in the fighting with the goal of allowing aid to reach Palestinians and enabling the departure of more foreign nationals and injured individuals. Over the past two days, approximately 800 people have left through the Rafah border crossing, which borders Egypt.

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