Pope Francis Accuses Israeli Army of ‘Terrorism’ in Firefight near Holy Family Church, IDF Denies Allegations

Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Jerusalem have accused the Israeli Army of killing two Christian Palestinian women who were allegedly shot by Israeli snipers at the Holy Family Parish complex in Gaza on Saturday morning. The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa said that “around noon” on Dec. 16, a sniper of the IDF “murdered two Christian women inside the Holy Family Parish in Gaza, where the majority of Christian families has taken refuge since the start of the war.”

The patriarchate claimed that, “No warning was given, no notification was provided. They were shot in cold blood inside the premises of the parish, where there are no belligerents.” Pope Francis called the alleged attack “terrorism” and insisted that “unarmed civilians” were targeted by the IDF.

“I continue receiving very serious and sad news about Gaza,” the pope said at the end of the Angelus prayer, “A mother and her daughter… were killed and other people were wounded by the shooters. This has happened even within the parish complex of the Holy Family, where there are no terrorists, but families, children, people who are sick and have disabilities.”

Amidst the allegations, the IDF released a statement saying that, “on December 17th, in the early afternoon, Hamas terrorists launched a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) at IDF troops from the vicinity of the church. The troops then identified three people in the vicinity, operating as spotters for Hamas by guiding their attacks in the direction of the IDF troops. In response, our troops fired toward the spotters and hits were identified.”

While the IDF acknowledged the incident in the area where the women were reportedly killed, they claimed that the reports received did not match the conclusion of their initial review. They insisted that the gunfire was aimed at Hamas spotters, and not at civilians within the parish complex.

Israel later clarified that they were not operating in the area at the time of the shooting. The IDF further emphasized that they take claims of strikes on sensitive sites very seriously, especially churches that are holy sites for the Christian faith, and that their operations are directed against the Hamas terrorist organization and not civilians.

The allegations and counterclaims have sparked controversy and confusion about the circumstances of the incident. Journalists and news pundits were called out for claiming that the Catholic Church, the Holy Family Parish in Gaza, was under fire from the IDF. However, Israel’s statement cast doubt on the accusations and raised questions about who was responsible for the women’s deaths.

The conflicting narratives from the Latin Patriarchate, Pope Francis, and the IDF have created a complex and contentious situation that requires a thorough and impartial investigation to ascertain the truth of what happened at the Holy Family Parish complex in Gaza. The tragic deaths of the two Christian Palestinian women underscore the urgent need for clarity and accountability in the midst of ongoing conflict and human suffering in the region.


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