The death toll from the Israeli bombardment on a Greek Orthodox church in Gaza has risen to eight, with dozens more reported wounded. Women and children were among those killed in the attack on Saint Porphyrius Church in the al-Zaytoun neighbourhood of Gaza, according to the Palestinian news agency Wafa.
Wafa reported that the number of people dead and wounded could still rise. The bombing led to the complete collapse of the building of the Council of Church Stewards, which housed several Palestinian families, both Christians and Muslims, who took refuge in the church amid continuing Israeli bombardment.
A video clip posted by Al Jazeera Arabic on the social media platform X showed two injured victims arriving in an ambulance at a Gaza medical facility.
The Israeli bombardment of the church was catastrophic, and dozens of victims have been reported. The final death toll is not yet clear, and confirmation is expected from the Palestinian health ministry in the Gaza Strip.
During the last hour, the Israeli bombardment has intensified in the central Gaza town of Al-Zahra, where more than 10 residential buildings and towers have been leveled by strikes, which are ongoing. Thousands of people are waiting in Al-Zahra to be evacuated to safer areas and away from the Israeli bombardment.
Also in the last couple of hours, Israeli tank shelling has hit a refugee camp in the strip.
Conditions for people in Gaza continue to deteriorate as they wait for news of humanitarian aid that is expected to enter Gaza from Egypt.
The entry of hundreds of trucks with humanitarian aid waiting on the Egyptian side of the border with Gaza will partially help to tackle the current situation as fuel and food supplies dwindle, and there is a deep shortage of medicines needed to treat the seriously injured in hospitals.
The Church of Saint Porphyrius, which was hit in an Israeli air attack on Thursday, killing at least eight people, has been a shelter for Palestinians, both Christian and Muslim, since the start of the war.
The building has a long history. It was built between the 1150s and 1160s by Crusaders and named after a fifth-century bishop of Gaza.
Speaking a few days before the compound was hit, Father Elias, a priest at the Greek Orthodox church, predicted that Israel could target it. Any strike on the church, he said, “would not only be an attack on religion, which is a vile deed, but also an attack on humanity.”