Gaza City

If you follow us on Facebook, you may have noticed that we have been asking for urgent prayers for Archbishop Alexios and those in the community around St. Porphyrios Orthodox Church in Gaza. While Order members in the United States have been celebrating Independence Day and Sunday liturgies, the situation in Gaza has deteriorated more rapidly than we could report. There has been substantial fighting, evacuations, and explosions in Gaza.

This week, the IDF launched an airstrike on a marketplace only blocks away from Saint Porphyrios. When the airstrike occurred, the market was bustling with people, including women and children. Several parishioners were in the market in Gaza at the time of the explosions. Some of these parisihioners were found buried under rubble. Many others suffered severe abrasions and cuts. The blast was so powerful that metal shrapnel landed on the roofs of Saint Porphyrios and Holy Family Catholic Church. Six civilians died in the blast, their bodies dismembered by the force of the airstrike.

Today, fighting has intensified near the church, with loud explosions shaking this part of Gaza. Reports say that the intensity of the current conflict is comparable to that of the initial church bombing in October. Many have moved to interior rooms of the churches, hoping they will be safer there. The people in the churches are terrified, perhaps more now than in previous skirmishes.

Our sources report extensive damage to the local areas. Few, if any, homes remain standing. The remaining homes are facing mandatory evacuations yet again, and there is still no safe passage to the “known shelters west of Gaza.” Locals seeking shelter have only the church and the monastic residences to find what safety there may be.

The Order will monitor this volatile situation closely and provide updates as we know more. Meanwhile, please follow us on Facebook for real-time updates throughout the week.

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