Washington, DC | www.adc.org | December 17, 2023 – The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is calling upon the Biden Administration to take immediate action in order to prevent the massacre of 500 civilians and parishoners taking shelter at the Holy Family Catholic Parish in Gaza. ADC is in contact with Arab Americans who have immediate family members currently in the church. President Biden, himself a Catholic, should understand the sanctity of a church, in addition to recognizing that places of worship are protected by International Humanitarian Law.
After weeks of a siege on church, including cutting off water supply, yesterday, the Israeli Occupation Forces began an attack on the church compound, which has been signaled as a place of worship since the beginning of the genocide. This morning Pope Francis condemned the attack and siege on the church. Already, Israeli snipers have killed mother Nahida Khalil Anton and her daughter Samar as they were crossing the grounds of the Parish to get to the convent, while shooting and wounding 7 other people as they tried to protect others inside the church compound. The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem said following the murder and shooting, “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.” Israeli rockets have also rendered the Convent of the Missions of Charity uninhabitable for the 54 people with disabilities being cared for within.
The threat to innocent life taking shelter in a Catholic parish is very real, and part of Israel’s ongoing attacks against protected places, including places of worship. Since the start of this genocide in the Gaza Strip, Israel has intentionally targeted, attacked, and destroyed places of worship, including mosques and churches. Their attacks have killed innocent worshippers of all faiths, including Christians and Muslims. On October 20, 2023, Israel bombed the Porphyrius Church in Gaza, a Greek Orthodox Church and the oldest in the city, killing 18 Palestinians taking refuge there. On December 8, 2023, Israel bombed and destroyed the Omari Mosque, the oldest and largest mosque in Gaza.
Israel has made clear what Palestinians have been saying for decades, Palestinians, Christian’s and Muslims alike, are a target. It’s not a religious issue, it’s a settler colonial project.
ADC National Executive Director Abed Ayoub said, “There is no justification for the attack on the Holy Family Catholic Parish, and President Biden must use his significant influence to stop another massacre before it happens. We once again call on President Biden to demand and implement an unconditional and immediate ceasefire, and ensure that those inside the church are protected.”
ADC continues to monitor the developments on the ground, and will do everything in its power to push the Biden Administration to call for an immediate ceasefire, to allow humanitarian aid and access into the Gaza Strip, and to end the unlawful occupation and siege once and for all.