9th of December 2023

Dear brothers and sisters:

Since October 7th the Order has focused its energy and attention on the community of Saint Porphyrios Orthodox Church and the horrifying conditions in which they have been living. It has now become imperative, however, that we inform you of the even more appalling situation in the greater community of Gaza, of which Saint Porphyrios is but a small integral part.

The civilians in the Gaza Strip have found themselves caught in a war that none of them have chosen; and they are unable to safely comply with mandatory evacuation orders imposed on them by a foreign occupier. They are witnesses to suffering and horrors that none of us can begin to imagine even in our darkest of nightmares.

In America, we have the luxury of distance. We have the luxury to look from afar and pity the suffering of others caught in war and persecution and then, in the next moment, in our own numbness, return to watching sports or other forms of entertainment. As Americans we are not used to experiencing mass trauma on the scale of the violence we are seeing in the war in Gaza. The Order implores you to please pause for a moment, and reflect on what our brothers and sisters in Christ are going through, and how you personally may be even a small light in their darkness.

As of the time of publication the United Nations reports 17,487 deaths in Gaza, including 7,729 innocent children and 5,153 women. These are not peaceful deaths but deaths of terror and agony.

46,480 Gazan citizens have been brutally injured, including 8,663 children and 6,327 women. 7,780 people are missing and unaccounted for.

On average, 9 adults and 6 children are killed every hour in Gaza while 35 people are injured.

In the Occupied West Bank, where close to 50,000 Christians live, at least 273 people have been killed by Israeli security forces since October 7, including at least 63 children. More than 3,365 people have been injured there.

At least 70% of the Gaza Strip has been destroyed, not merely damaged but completely annihilated. This includes over 300,000 homes, 339 schools, 26 hospitals, and 167 places of worship.

In northern Gaza, where Saint Porphyrios Orthodox Church is located, 97% of all households have insufficient access to food and clean drinking water. Simply put, 9 out of 10 people, including children and infants, are going days at a time without food or water. 80% of the 2.2 million population of Gaza has been displaced with forced starvation as a tool of war.

Please keep in mind that those displaced at Saint Porphyrios are no different than the suffering citizens elsewhere in Gaza with the exception of slight varieties in terror. They scrape together one main meal a day from what little food remains, while access to their water well dwindles due to their lack of fuel. The air around them is heavy with the sickly-sweet smell of hundreds of decaying bodies trapped in rubble unable to be retrieved for burial.

The Red Cross/Red Crescent Society has reported that 60% of all injured people need urgent medical treatment abroad. This past Thursday alone, there were 212 military airstrikes on healthcare installations. Gaza only has 14 remaining hospitals that are just minimally operational with hundreds if not thousands of desperate patients, many of whom are women and children, waiting for lifesaving care. The Red Crescent has further reported that the Israeli Defense Force is deliberately arresting and abusing the sick and wounded including Red Crescent paramedics.

On Friday the world saw images of at least 100 men detained and paraded by the IDF. These men had been stripped to their underwear, blindfolded, hands tied and made to kneel for hours on end in the open air. The age of the detainees ranged from children to the elderly. This treatment is a tool to humiliate and break the spirit of the civilian populace. As such, it is inhumane and is a crime against humanity.

No child should have to die, let along die an agonizing death. No child should be the victim to an airstrike where they lose their limbs or become permanently handicapped from shrapnel lodged into their bodies. Lastly, no child should have to see their whole family die around them and be the only one left as an orphan alone in the world.

We are witnesses to the genocide of the Palestinian people in Gaza at the hands of Israeli forces. We are not just seeing the indiscriminate bombing and destruction of whole neighborhoods, but also the full extermination of whole families, three of whom were Orthodox Christian.

The number of Christians in Gaza has declined over recent years. Prior to October 7th Christians numbered at just 1,000 which is a steep decline from the nearly 3,000 reported when Hamas took political control over the territory in 2007. The native Arab Orthodox Christians in Gaza are living stones: they lay claim to a 2 millennia old heritage in the besieged enclave. The Order is uncertain of the fate of the other 500 Christians in Gaza who did not seek the relative protection (such as it is) of Saint Porphyrios Orthodox Church. We pray they are alive and in relative safety.

As head of the Order of Saint George the Great Martyr, I cannot stress enough that we need to do more for the Christians in Gaza both now and in the future. We need to be their hope that they are not alone in this war. We cannot neglect or desert them! Not a single place of worship nor a grave is safe in Gaza as it is bombed relentlessly, from north to south, day and night. This catastrophe and psychological war will surely haunt them for generations.

The Order remains committed to the community of Saint Porphyrios, to Archbishop Alexios, to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and to all the Orthodox Christians who live across the Holy Land and Greater Middle East.

We ask during this Nativity Season that you continue to think of our Christian brothers and sisters in the Holy Land and to faithfully contribute financially to their needs through our fundraising campaign. The Order will not stop raising funds for them until their homes, schools, and communities are restored. We will continue to do everything we can until they are safe.

Through the prayers of Saint Porphyrios of Gaza and Saint George the Great Martyr and Victory Bearer, may the Lord have mercy and save His suffering servants.

Your servant and brother in Christ,
Konstantine Pandolfi, E. M.

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