Gaza church bombed

Published March 1, 2003


St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, which is located within the Ahli Arab Hospital compound in Gaza, was hit on Jan. 24 by an Israeli missile. “We are going to raise hell,” Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal of the Anglican Church in Jerusalem told Reuters. “Apparently the Israelis can’t distinguish between a church and a foundry,” he said. Bishop El-Assal said he intended to claim compensation from the Israeli government and would take the government to court if it refused.

Israeli Brigadier-General Tzvika Fogel said that helicopters had fired five missiles at a suspected Palestinian weapons factory, but two of the missiles malfunctioned. Residents said the foundry destroyed in the attack was about 900 metres from the church.

Built at the turn of the 20th century, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church was reconsecrated in 1996 in the presence of then-Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey and 34 other primates of the Anglican Communion, along with Palestinian president Yasser Arafat.

The explosion shattered the church’s century-old stained glass windows and crystal from the chandeliers littered the floor. The missile entered through the roof and left a metre-wide hole in the floor. The building was structurally reinforced during its remodeling, but now the walls show numerous deep cracks. At the hospital, the pediatric clinics were damaged. Throughout the building, glass littered the floors, windows were broken and doors separated from their frames.


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