An Israeli military sniper shot and killed two women inside the Holy Family Parish in Gaza on Saturday, according to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
The mother and daughter were walking to the Sister’s Convent, the patriarchate said, when gunfire erupted. “One was killed as she tried to carry the other to safety,” it added.
Seven others were also shot and wounded in the attack at the complex, where most Gaza’s Christian families have taken refuge since the start of the war, according to the patriarchate, which oversees Catholic Churches across Cyprus, Jordan, Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.
“No warning was given, no notification was provided,” the statement continued. “They were shot in cold blood inside the premises of the parish, where there are no belligerents.”
Pope Francis on Sunday addressed the deaths at the Holy Family Parish, lamenting that “unarmed civilians are targets for bombs and gunfire” in Gaza and invoking scripture on war.
“I continue receiving very serious and sad news about Gaza. Unarmed civilians are targets for bombs and gunfire. And this has happened even within the parish complex of the Holy Family, where there are no terrorists, but families, children, people who are sick and have disabilities, sisters,” he said during his weekly Angelus prayer.
“Some are saying, ‘This is terrorism and war.’ Yes, it is war, it is terrorism. That is why Scripture says that ‘God puts an end to war… the bow he breaks and the spear he snaps,’” the Pope continued.
“Let us pray to the Lord for peace,” he added.
According to the patriarchate, Israel Defense Forces tanks also targeted the Convent of the Sisters of Mother Theresa, which houses 54 disabled people and is part of the church’s compound. The building’s generator, its only current source of electricity, as well as its fuel resources, solar panels and water tanks were also destroyed.
IDF rockets had made the convent “uninhabitable,” the statement said.
On Friday, UK lawmaker Layla Moran, a member of parliament for Oxford West and Abingdon, said that members of her family sheltering in the church were “beyond desperate and terrified” as conditions continued to worsen.
Moran on November 15 told the UK House of Commons that a family member who had been sheltering in the church had died. Citing accounts from her family, Moran added that electricity generators at the church had stopped.
“[My family] are reporting white phosphorous and gunfire into their compound,” she said. “The bin collector and the janitor have been shot and their bodies are laying outside and remain uncollected.”
This is a developing story and will be updated.