An Israeli bombardment has partially destroyed a Catholic school, along with the parish priest's office and other church facilities in a raid on Gaza on Tuesday. As many as 29 disabled children and nine elderly women are said to have been living at the complex, with the parish priest condemning the "absurd war" between Israel and Hamas.
"We had a tough night, but we are here. This war is absurd,'' said parish priest Jorge Hernandez, who was living at the Holy Family Catholic church, alongside three nuns with the Mother Theresa order, according to Fides News Agency.
"After destroying the neighborhood of Shujayeh, now Zeitun is being targeted. Everything happens around us. The Hamas militants continue to fire rockets and then hide in the alleys. And we cannot do anything. We cannot evacuate, it is impossible with children. Their families live here. It is more dangerous to go out than stay here. We try to stay in safer places, always on the ground floor." more >>
The ministry director of a group working to bring Israelis and Palestinians together has urged Christians not to take sides in the current conflict, but follow Jesus' example and promote reconciliation.
"Christians around the world can help promote reconciliation by remembering and encouraging us to remember the central figure of our faith, Jesus. We need to focus on His example as a peacemaker, as He called us to be at peace with God and each other," Salim J. Munayer, the director and founder of Musalaha Ministry of Reconciliation, told The Christian Post in an email interview on Monday.
"Instead of taking sides in our conflict, as many outside voices do, Christians should play the role of a bridge, and call us to follow Jesus' example, and His teachings." more >>
The plight of U.S.-Iranian Pastor Saeed Abedini was highlighted by Secretary of State John Kerry during his remarks for the State Department's 2013 Report on International Religious Freedom, with Kerry promising to continue to work for the pastor's release.
"In Iran, U.S. Iranian citizen Pastor Saeed Abedini remains imprisoned. The Iranian authorities sentenced him to eight years behind bars simply because of his religious beliefs. We will continue to call for his release and we will continue to work for it," Kerry stated.
"And make no mistake: We will continue to stand up for religious minority communities under assault and in danger around the world, from Jehovah's Witnesses to Baha'is to Ahmadi Muslims." more >>
The end of Christianity in Iraq could be "very near" according to Canon Andrew White, the vicar of the only Anglican church in Iraq, as Islamic militants continue their attacks of Christians and the central government.
"Things are so desperate, our people are disappearing," White said in an interview with BBC Radio 4 over the weekend. "We have had people massacred, their heads chopped off.
"Are we seeing the end of Christianity? We are committed come what may, we will keep going to the end, but it looks as though the end could be very near." more >>
The U.N. Security Council has demanded an "immediate and unconditional" cease-fire in Gaza on Monday morning after the Israel-Hamas conflict topped 1,000 deaths. U.S. President Barack Obama has meanwhile backed Israel's right to defend itself with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, but expressed concern with the mounting civilian deaths.
The U.N. statement called for both Israel and Hamas "to accept and fully implement the humanitarian cease-fire into the Eid period and beyond," Fox News reported, explaining that this will allow for the delivery of much needed assistance.
Israel and Hamas had reached a 12-hour humanitarian truce on Saturday that was extended to another 24 hours, following pressure from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other foreign ministers. Hamas has reportedly continued to fire rockets during that time, however, and Israel has said that it will continue to neutralize terrorist threats. more >>
Israel decided late Saturday to extend a 12-hour humanitarian truce for another 24 hours in the Gaza Strip under pressure from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and foreign ministers from other nations. But Hamas militants said they will accept the truce only if Israeli troops leave the territory, and fired a barrage of rockets at Israel.
During the period of the 24-hour truce, which goes on through Sunday midnight, the Israeli army would continue to neutralize Gaza tunnels as well as respond to attacks by Palestinian militants, according to Israeli news website Haaretz.com. Israel says the tunnels reach into its territory and could be used to attack its citizens.
Ezzedine al-Qassam, the armed wing of Hamas, acknowledged that it fired two rockets at Tel Aviv in central Israel, and five at Nachal Oz in the south, according to France 24. However, there were no reports of casualties. more >>