Pope Francis has issued a strong condemnation of the recent attacks on civilians in Gaza, referring to the violence as both “war” and “terrorism.”
During the Angelus prayer on Sunday, the Pope expressed deep concern about the situation in the Holy Land, citing the plight of Christians at the Holy Family Catholic Parish in Gaza.
The Pope denounced an Israeli military attack on the Catholic parish, emphasizing that the targets were unarmed civilians, including families, children, individuals with disabilities, and nuns.
He specifically mentioned the tragic deaths of Nahida Khalil Anton and her daughter, Samar Kamal Anton, who were killed during the attack while going to the bathroom.
“This is war. It is terrorism. That is why the Scripture affirms that ‘God stops wars… breaks the bow, splinters the spear’. Let us pray to the Lord for peace,” said Pope Francis.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) carried out a heavy bombardment in the vicinity of Gaza’s only Catholic parish on Saturday.
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem reported that an IDF tank fired a rocket, hitting the Convent of the Missionaries of Charity.
The attack destroyed the building’s generator, causing a massive fire that damaged the structure and rendered it uninhabitable for the 54 people with disabilities cared for by the Sisters of Mother Teresa.
The Pope’s condemnation was echoed by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, saying, “The Convent is home to over 54 disabled persons and is part of the church compound, which was signaled as a place of worship since the beginning of the war.”
Later in the day, two Christian women, Nahida Khalil Anton and her daughter Samar Kamal Anton, seeking refuge in the Holy Family church compound, were killed by an Israeli sniper.
The victims had reportedly exited the church building and were walking toward the Sisters’ Convent when they were shot.
The incident resulted in seven others being wounded as they attempted to protect those inside the church compound.
“No warning was given; no notification was provided. They were shot in cold blood inside the premises of the Parish, where there are no belligerents,” said the Patriarchate.
The Pope extended his prayers to those affected in Gaza and people suffering from conflict in other parts of the world, urging a commitment to peace as Christmas approaches.