Former Michigan congressman Justin Amash has shared the devastating news that several of his family members were killed at the Saint Porphyrius Orthodox Church in Gaza City. The church’s meeting hall was hit by Israeli bombs, causing the building to collapse and tragically burying some of the 400 people seeking shelter inside.
Amash took to social media to express his grief, stating, “With great sadness, I have now confirmed that several of my relatives (including Viola and Yara pictured here) were killed at Saint Porphyrius Orthodox Church in Gaza, where they had been sheltering.” He posted a photo of the two women as a tribute to the lives lost. Amash, who is of Palestinian and Syrian Christian descent, expressed solidarity with the Palestinian Christian community and extended his prayers to all those suffering in the region, regardless of their religion or creed.
The bombing of St. Porphyrius Church was initially not commented on by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). However, a statement released by the IDF late on Thursday acknowledged the incident, attributing it to the successful targeting of a command and control center belonging to a Hamas terrorist, involved in launching rockets and mortars towards Israel. The statement also acknowledged the damage caused to the church and expressed awareness of reports on casualties, stating that the incident is under review.
Archbishop Tiberias Alexios of the Greek Orthodox Church provided further details about the attack. According to Alexios, the bombs struck the adjacent buildings to St. Porphyrius Church, including the church offices, monastery, and the meeting hall. The damage caused the buildings to collapse, leading to the tragic loss of lives. Funerals for the 16 people killed in the attack were held on Friday, as the community mourned their loss.
St. Porphyrius Church holds great historical significance, as it was originally built in the 5th century and named after the local bishop. The current structure, which was constructed in the mid-1100s during the Crusades, has undergone renovations in the 1800s. Located in the Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza, it is revered as the oldest active church in the city.
This heartbreaking incident highlights the ongoing conflict and its devastating impact on innocent lives. It serves as a reminder of the urgent need for peace and a resolution to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The international community continues to watch the situation closely and hopes for a peaceful resolution that respects the lives and rights of all those affected.
While the loss of Justin Amash’s family members is deeply tragic, it serves as a personal reminder of the human toll of such conflicts. It is crucial to remember that amidst the political and military rhetoric, countless individuals and families are bearing the brunt of this violence. As the world mourns for those lost in this senseless tragedy, it is imperative that efforts towards reconciliation and peace are further intensified.