British MP Leila Moran, whose family is among hundreds trapped there, told CNN that the situation had become “more than desperate” for people taking shelter inside a church in Gaza where an Israeli military sniper allegedly shot and killed two women.
Moran, a member of the British Parliament for Oxford West and Abingdon, said that 300 people, including children, were inside the Holy Family Parish Church in Gaza City as the Israeli bombing of the Strip continued in its tenth week.
“The situation has deteriorated dramatically over the past week. There are snipers shooting people. What is happening is beyond horror,” Moran told CNN’s Issa Soares.
“These are Christians who are looking for a safe haven in the week before Christmas, after being there for more than 60 days… They have been told by the IDF that they need to evacuate (and) it is not clear why or where – there are no churches outside.” Gaza City.”
The plight of those taking refuge in the church has received increased international attention after the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem accused an Israeli military sniper of shooting a mother and daughter there.
The Patriarchate said that Israeli army tanks also targeted the convent of Mother Teresa Sisters, part of the church complex that also houses 54 disabled people. She added that the building’s electric generator, fuel sources, solar panels, and water tanks were also destroyed.
The two women He was walking to the monastery when gunfire broke out. The Patriarchate said: “One of them was killed while trying to move the other to safety.” She added that seven others were also injured by bullets in the attack on the church compound.
The Israeli army appeared to deny responsibility for the killings.
“Church representatives contacted the Israeli army regarding the explosions heard near the church. During the dialogue between the IDF and community representatives, there were no reports of damage to the church or injury or death of civilians,” the IDF statement said. “A review of the IDF’s operational findings supports this.”
The IDF also said that it “takes allegations of damage to sensitive sites very seriously – especially churches – taking into account that Christian communities are a minority in the Middle East.”
The statement added, “The IDF only targets terrorists and terrorist infrastructure and does not target civilians, regardless of their religion… (and) takes broad measures to avoid harming uninvolved civilians.”
Jill Cohen Magen/AFP/Getty Images/File
Israeli forces gather with their military vehicles on the border with the Gaza Strip on November 30, 2023.
He faced the Israeli army Increasing international criticism On shooting.
“Unarmed civilians are targets of bombs and gunfire, and this happened even inside the Holy Family Parish compound, where there are not terrorists but families, children, the sick and people with disabilities.” Pope Francis He said Sunday.
British Minister of State for the Middle East Tariq Ahmed also condemned the killings and called on Israel to adhere to humanitarian law.
Ahmed said in a statement: “I am shocked by the killing of civilians who took refuge in a church in northern Gaza and the injury of others.” statement Sunday.
“Israel must abide by international humanitarian law. Civilians must be protected,” he added. “There is an urgent need for a sustainable ceasefire that leads to sustainable peace.”
Many members of Moran’s extended family took refuge in the church the first week after October 7.
Moran said that her family had reached “the last can of corn” as the situation deteriorated, calling on the Israeli government and army to stop targeting the church.
She said she had already lost a family member, who died of dehydration.
She added: “He was 81 years old and was fit and well before all of this and he died because he couldn’t get to hospital.”
“I’m not sure (my remaining family members) will survive.
“I would simply say this to the Israeli government, this is the week before Christmas, is this the time you want to pick a fight with the Pope? Is this the time when you want to forcibly displace Palestinians from the place they have chosen to seek refuge?”
Moran confirmed that there was no Hamas presence in the church at all. He added, “The assertion that Hamas operates from that church is baseless.”
“There are children there,” she added. “The women who were killed, if anyone dared to look at the pictures, could not look less like Hamas fighters.”
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