Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza Becomes a Shelter to Fleeing Palestinians


About 1,000 Palestinian Muslims fleeing Israeli shells that are being dropped in their Gaza neighborhood have found shelter in a building they otherwise would rarely if ever enter, the city’s 12th-century Greek Orthodox Church.

Children from the Shejaia district, where some 72 Palestinians – many of them women and children – were killed during fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas militants on Sunday, were busy playing football in the yard on Tuesday.

“We have opened the church in order to help people. This is the duty of the church and we are doing all we can to help them,” Archbishop Alexios told Reuters as the sounds of small children echoed outside his office at the church.

“At the beginning there were 600 people and today they became a thousand – mostly children and women. Some of those children are a week old,” said the head of Gaza’s Greek Orthodox minority, the largest of the Christian communities here.

Only about 1,400 Christians – Orthodox, Catholics and Protestants – live among the 1.8 million Muslims, meaning they make up 0.08 percent of the population in the crowded Gaza Strip dominated by Hamas, an Islamist group.

Their life as a religious minority has not always been easy. Militants— including members of Hamas— have often attacked the church in times of upheaval between the communities. In 2006, when then Pope Benedict quoted a medieval scholar describing Islam as a violent and irrational religion, militants attacked five Christian churches in Palestinian areas, including Saint Porphyrius.

“The mosque nearby and the neighbors of the church are all helping. We are still in need of mattresses, blankets, food and most important is petrol, as we suffer blackouts. If there is no electricity we cannot have water also,” said the archbishop.

Despite the overcrowding and danger, Alexios said there has been some joy in the church in the midst of tragedy.

“Yesterday, a woman gave birth to a baby, a new life. Man should be hopeful.. There is death but also there is life too,” he said with a smile.



  1. Patrick Harris on

    Thanks to Vicky for posting this, adds to my knowledge about the area in question. Added bonus other articles to read.

  2. Alexander Karas on

    Hamas, will remember nothing. Their appreciation will probably be displayed by either blowing up the church or using it to store and lob rockets into Israel. Amazing….a terror group recognized as a political party that states death to their citizens is a worthy cause / result.
    Mosul is a perfect example if how we will all get along with Islam. As of this morning there are ZERO Christians left in that city ,,,down a bit , from 65,000 . The deeds to their properties have been torn up, their jewelry and other valuables confiscated and they've all fled. The only choice offered is converted to Islam or die .

    Why would Hamas be any more generous or peace loving??? Sadly, The future is written in the history books and we are witnessing biblical events unfolding exactly as predicted like it or not…it is what it is.
    We are all in for a very rocky ride until Christ returns.

    AND to those few who just rolled their eyes… there's a good shot you wont "make it", especially if you claim you are a Christian. In case some of you didnt know this, our Bible has been and still is the inerrant word of God, the only benchmark in the pool of public opinion that has never been wrong. Therefore, with that kind of track record I will lean on logic to guide my nays and my yays.

    My Yiaya and Papou were expelled from their land and home under the threat of death by the Islamic Ottomans in the former Greek land / area known as Ephesus. AND then in 1974 forty years ago they did it again and the world said nothing. We are NOT more civilized and we are not more 'evolved' ….just better, more efficient at stealing and killing.
    If we had a real leader the unfolding of events would have been slowed down. Instead the geo-political relationships are decaying faster than ever before. We are not safe here in America an ocean away as terror cells have been established waiting for a call to action. AND I almost forgot ….certainly, " our border is secure "

  3. Susie Billy Kanichis on

    Bud McNeely What an odd thing for anyone to say…the guy above is pointing out facts and discrediting with "it's kosher,right?"

  4. so much propaganda against Israel nowadays, so i'm staying on guard for Israel, so too bad if it's offensive in some way, just got to be honest about how i feel about the conflict in Israel and Palestine.

  5. Gail Anna Cardinal Kalish on

    Thank you for keeping all of us sisters & brothers of Christ updated on this horrible situation. It is heartbreaking for me as a Greek Orthodox Christian.

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