Former Rep. Justin Amash (D-Mich.), the first Palestinian American to serve in Congress, posted online that his family members were killed in Gaza amid ongoing airstrikes between Israel and the Hamas militant group.
“With great sadness, I have now confirmed that several of my relatives (including Viola and Yara pictured here) were killed in the St. Porphyrius Orthodox Church in Gaza, where they were taking shelter, when part of the complex was destroyed as a result of a bombing. Israeli airstrike.” Amash posted on Xthe platform formerly known as Twitter.
The explosion struck the Greek Orthodox church, which was sheltering hundreds of displaced Palestinians, late on Thursday, causing a wall to collapse. Abi Salamiya, general director of Al-Shifa Hospital, initially said dozens were injured in the church, but he could not give a specific death toll because the bodies were buried under rubble, the Associated Press reported.
The Palestinian authorities attributed the explosion to an Israeli air strike, which could not be independently verified.
Holy Orthodox Monastic Order of Saint George The bombing was confirmed the church.
“The bombs hit the two church halls where the refugees, including children and infants, were sleeping,” the order said in a statement. “Our source at the scene says they estimate between 150 and 200 people died, and that number is expected to rise as more people are found in the wreckage.”
according to Al JazeeraThe church traditionally served as a “refuge for both Christians and Muslims during Israel’s periodic wars against Gaza.”
A number of members of Congress responded to Amash online, offering their condolences for his loss.
“Justin, I am so sorry,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote on X. “This is devastating.”
The former MP expressed that his family is suffering, and wished comfort for others suffering from the same situation.
He wrote: “Lord, rest their souls, and may their memories be everlasting,” and added: “May God protect all Christians in Gaza – and all Israelis and Palestinians who are suffering, whatever their religion or belief.”
Amash represents Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District until 2021.
About 1,400 Israelis were killed in the first two weeks of the conflict in the Middle East, officials said. The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza said the response to the raids led to the deaths of nearly 3,800 Palestinians.
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