The Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem have condemned the deadly explosion at a Christian hospital in the Gaza Strip as an “egregious crime, one demanding the severest censure and international accountability.”
Hundreds of people – many of them sheltering from Israeli bombing of Gaza – were killed Tuesday at the Al Ahli Anglican Episcopal Hospital in Gaza, when something hit the hospital, leading to a massive explosion. Initially, it was assumed to be an Israeli airstrike. Then on Wednesday, Israel claimed the devastation was caused by a failed rocket launch by the militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Initial US intelligence investigation were said to back this claim.
The hospital was treating and sheltering some 5,000 people at the time of the incident, according to Catholic Near East Welfare Association.
Shattering a sanctuary
The statement of the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, published Wednesday, said the religious leaders of the Holy Land were in “profound solidarity with the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem as we bear witness to the criminal attack.”
“This heart-wrenching crime occurred on a day when the Christian community had convened in earnest prayer, beseeching the heavens for peace, reconciliation, and the cessation of the war on Gaza,” their statement read.
The leaders lamented what they called a “horrifying shattering of a sanctuary of compassion and healing in Gaza, culminating in the tragic loss of hundreds of innocent lives.”
“In unyielding unity, we vehemently denounce this crime with our strongest condemnation,” the spiritual leaders said. “The initial reports of the Church hospital in Gaza tragedy have left us steeped in sorrow, for it represents a profound transgression against the very principles held by humanity. Hospitals, designated as sacred havens under international law, have been desecrated by Military Forces. We unequivocally declare this atrocity as an egregious crime, one demanding the severest censure and international accountability. We implore the global community to embrace its sacred duty to shield civilians and to ensure that such heinous transgressions are never again permitted.”
The leaders said they “implore our friends, partners, and all people of goodwill to stand with us as we grieve the tragic results. Our prayers and support remain steadfast, and our collective voices rise as an impassioned chorus, calling for justice, peace, and the cessation of the suffering that has descended upon the people of Gaza.”