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Ex-US congressman says relatives killed in Gaza strike

Justin Amash has revealed that he lost family members at the St. Porphyrius Church

Former Michigan Congressman Justin Amash announced on Friday that his relatives were among those killed at the St. Porphyrius Orthodox Church in Gaza City, when its meeting hall was hit by Israeli bombs.

“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,” Amash said on X (formerly Twitter), posting a photo of the two women. 

“The Palestinian Christian community has endured so much. Our family is hurting badly. May God watch over all Christians in Gaza – and all Israelis and Palestinians who are suffering, whatever their religion or creed,” the former congressman added.

Amash was born in the US to Palestinian and Syrian Christian parents. He represented Michigan’s 3rd congressional district from 2011 to 2021. He had commented on the bombing of St. Porphyrius on Thursday evening, correctly stating that the ancient church had been “damaged from a blast.” 

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Oldest Orthodox church in Gaza damaged by ‘Israeli strike’ – officials

According to Archbishop Tiberias Alexios of the Greek Orthodox Church, the bombs struck the buildings adjacent to St. Porphyrios, where the church offices, monastery and the meeting hall were located. The buildings collapsed from the damage, burying some of the 400 people sheltering inside. Funerals for 16 people killed in the attack were held on Friday. 

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) initially did not comment on the bombing, but released a statement late on Thursday saying it had successfully targeted “the command and control center belonging to a Hamas terrorist, involved in the launching of rockets and mortars toward 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,” the statement added. 

St. Porphyrius was originally built in the 5th century and named after the local bishop. The present structure was erected in the mid-1100s, during the Crusades, and renovated in the 1800s. Located in the Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza, it is the oldest active church in the city.

 

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