The attacks on Deir Mimas Monastery, Holy Family Parish, and Porphyrius Church highlight a disregard for the sanctity of religious spaces by the apartheid regime, and the lives of those who seek refuge within their walls.
Israeli forces have targeted the historic Deir Mimas Monastery in Lebanon, a revered site dating back to 1404 A.D, one day before Christmas Eve, signalling a broader pattern of Israeli aggression against religious sites and civilian sanctuaries.
This historic site underwent several restorations, with the most recent reconstruction starting in 2008, funded by Qatar, following its total demolition during the 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon.
On Thursday, Hezbollah launched attacks on multiple Israeli army sites and settlements in northern Israel. This was in retaliation to Israel’s earlier strikes on residential areas in southern Lebanon.
They announced that they had used suitable weapons to target the Israeli settlements of Doviv and Avivim.
Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group and political party, has been engaged in border clashes with Israel since 7 October.
Israel’s latest assaults on holy sites
With Byzantine-era churches destroyed, and 7th-century mosques bombed in Gaza, Israel is erasing the Strip’s religious and cultural history.
Last week, the occupation forces attacked a church compound in Gaza, just one week ahead of Christmas, claiming the lives of two Christian women and led to the displacement of numerous disabled Palestinians.
An Israeli sniper shot Nahida Anton and her daughter Samar Anton in cold blood as the pair were making their way to the Sister’s Convent within the Holy Family Parish in Gaza. A statement from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem condemned the attack, adding “No warning was given, no notification was provided.”
The statement further clarified that the compound did not have any belligerents.
Seven Palestinians were also injured while attempting to shield others in the compound. Bombing on the preceding night resulted in injuries to three additional people within the church.
These attacks also caused substantial damage to the church compound’s infrastructure
On 19 October, an Israeli airstrike on a building adjacent to the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Porphyrius killed 18 Gazans who were seeking refuge there. Among the them were nine children.
Since 7 October, the Israeli military has levelled 192 mosques within the Gaza Strip, as reported by Israeli news sources.
Earlier this month, Israeli forces striked the historic Omari Mosque located in the Old City of Gaza City, resulting in extensive damage.
The Omari Mosque, with a history spanning over 1,400 years, is revered as one of Gaza’s oldest and largest mosques. It is the third largest mosque in occupied Palestine, following the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Ahmed Pasha Al-Jazzar Mosque in Acre.
Christmas celebrations cancelled in Bethlehem
Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, is cancelling all celebrations this year.
In solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza, Bethlehem’s municipality has set up an installation titled “Nativity under the Rubble” in Manger Square, a spot typically adorned with a festive Christmas tree.
The installation was officially unveiled on Saturday night by Rula Maayah, the Palestinian Minister of Tourism, and Hana Hananiyeh, the Mayor of Bethlehem.
The display portrays the nativity scene set against the backdrop of a destroyed building, reflecting the hardships and affliction endured by the people of Gaza.
“This is a message to the whole world that the whole world is celebrating Christmas, but not Bethlehem. Bethlehem this year is celebrating Christmas in a different way with a message to the whole world that Palestine is suffering. That Bethlehem is suffering. That Bethlehem is celebrating Christmas from the rubble. Not like all other people in the world,” Rula Maayah said.
Despite mounting international calls for a cease-fire, Israel has continued its brutal assault on Gaza, with more than 20,000 Palestinians killed.