Israel Tweets, Then Deletes, Video Showing Deadly Strike Which Hit Ancient Greek Orthodox Church

Chris Menahan
Oct. 20, 2023

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Friday tweeted and then swiftly deleted video confirming the Israeli Airforce conducted an airstrike right next to the ancient Saint Porphyrius Orthodox Church in Gaza.

The reason for the deletion is not clear -- the IDF has said nothing about it -- but people noted how the target on the video appeared to have been missed (the strike reportedly destroyed the church's assembly hall and killed Christian and Muslim refugees who were sheltering inside the church's compound).

The blast was clearly right next to the church and the IDF admitted to Reuters that they damaged it.

From Reuters, "Orthodox church says it was hit by Israeli air strike in Gaza":
A Greek Orthodox church in the Gaza Strip which was sheltering hundreds of displaced Palestinians was hit overnight by an Israeli air strike, the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem said, and Palestinian health officials said 16 people were killed.

[...] The Israeli military said a part of the church was damaged in a strike on a militant command centre and it was reviewing the incident.

Palestinian officials said at least 500 Muslims and Christians had taken shelter in the Greek Orthodox Church of St Porphyrius from Israeli bombardments.

The Orthodox Church said in a statement: "The Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem expresses its strongest condemnation of the Israeli air strike that has struck its church compound in the city of Gaza."

The Hamas-run government's health ministry said in a statement that 16 Palestinian Christians were killed in the incident.

Video from the scene at the church compound showed a wounded boy being carried from the rubble in the dark of the night. A civil defence worker said two people on upper floors had survived. Those on lower floors had been killed and were still in the rubble, the worker said.

[...] The Israeli military said its fighter jets had hit a nearby command and control centre that was used to carry out attacks against Israel.

"As a result of the IDF strike, a wall of a church in the area was damaged. We are aware of reports on casualties. The incident is under review," it said.

"The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) can unequivocally state that the Church was not the target of the strike," it said.

Witnesses said however the damage inside the church was extensive.
Graphic footage of the dead and wounded was shared on social media.

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