Media outlets reported, falsely, that Israel had bombed a historic church in Gaza on Thursday — though it did target a nearby building in which it said Hamas had a command center, and the blast caused a building on the church center to collapse.
There were several casualties, including relatives of former Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), who were sheltering at the site.
I was really worried about this. 😔 With great sadness, I have now confirmed that several of my relatives (including Viola and Yara pictured here) were killed at Saint Porphyrius Orthodox Church in Gaza, where they had been sheltering, when part of the complex was destroyed as… pic.twitter.com/w5k1xEeTgF
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) October 20, 2023
The Greek foreign ministry commented on the damage to the church, which is part of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate:
The Greek Foreign Ministry expressed sorrow over the fatal strike on Gaza’s oldest active church, the 12th-century Greek Orthodox church of St Porphyrius, which was hit late on Thursday night, emphasizing the importance of the protection of civilians.
“We express our deep sorrow for the loss of life caused by a strike on a building adjacent to the Monastery of St Porphyrius in Gaza. The protection of civilians and the security of places of worship and religious institutions should be ensured and respected on all sides,” the ministry said.
The New York Times reported:
A statement from the Israeli military on Friday said that the church was not the intended target of the airstrike. The fighter jets that carried out the attack were trying to destroy a Hamas command center near the church that the military believes has been involved in launching rockets and mortars toward Israel, the statement said.
“As a result of the I.D.F. strike, a wall of a church in the area of the center was damaged,” the statement said, using the initials of the Israel Defense Forces. “We are aware of reports on casualties. The incident is under review. The I.D.F. can unequivocally state that the church was not the target of the strike.”
Palestinian terrorists frequently place their weapons and personnel in religious buildings, including churches. In 2002, there was a tense standoff between terrorists and Israeli soldiers at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
Ironically, many anti-Israel sites and social media accounts falsely reported a week before that Israel had razed the church. Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.