Date:  October 20, 2023

Gaza (International Christian Concern) –  An explosion Thursday night at St. Porphyrius Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza City destroyed the church’s assembly hall, injuring and killing dozens of people inside.  

At least 500 people, including many of Gaza’s small Christian minority, have been sheltering in the church since the war began. The explosion killed at least 40 people, including 19 Christians, according to preliminary reports. 

Neither side of the conflict has released a statement claiming responsibility for the attack. Gaza authorities state that it was an Israeli airstrike, while Israel has not yet made a statement at the time of reporting. International Christian Concern continues to monitor the situation as more information becomes known and verified. 

St. Porphyrius is an ancient church, with the church’s original site dating to the 5th century AD. It is the largest of the three churches still open in the Gaza Strip and one of the main locations where Gaza’s Christian community has been sheltering during the war, believing it to be one of the last safe places in Gaza. 

The church is administered by the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which issued an official statement after the strike on their church in Gaza:  

“Despite the evident targeting of the facilities and shelters of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and other churches – including the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem Hospital, other schools, and social institutions – the Patriarchate, along with the other churches, remain committed to fulfilling its religious and moral duty in providing assistance, support, and refuge to those in need, amidst continuous Israeli demands to evacuate these institutions of civilians and the pressures exerted on the churches in this regard. The Patriarchate stresses that it will not abandon its religious and humanitarian duty, rooted in its Christian values, to provide all that is necessary in times of war and peace alike.” 

HOW TO PRAY: Pray for this conflict to end quickly and peacefully. Pray for provision for those stuck in the crossfire. Pray for safer places for vulnerable Christians to take shelter.