Destruction of Gaza church is 'war crime' human rights group says

Destruction of Gaza church is 'war crime' human rights group says

The destruction of a Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza constitutes a war crime, according to a US human rights organisation, Justice For All.

The organisation, based in Chicago, has submitted a legal document to the International Criminal Court (ICC) addressing the destruction of Saint Porphyrius Church in Gaza City on 19th October 2023. It says it constitutes a war crime because the church is a historical and cultural landmark.

Saint Porphyrius is one of the oldest functioning churches in the world and has been a cornerstone of Christian worship and community life in Gaza since 425 AD. During the attack, the church was sheltering hundreds of civilians, including many from Gaza's Christian minority. The Israeli airstrikes resulted in significant casualties, with 18 civilians killed, including a three-month-old baby, and many more injured.

The submission to the ICC outlines violations of several key articles of the Rome Statute, emphasising the intentional targeting of non-military structures and the disproportionate impact on civilian lives and cultural heritage.

Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, president of Justice For All, expressed his deep concern over the incident. He said: "The destruction of Saint Porphyrius Greek Orthodox Church is not just an attack on a building but an assault on the spiritual and cultural heritage of the Palestinian Christian community, contributing to their genocide. If this church had been anywhere else in the world, there would have been a global uproar. It's imperative that the international community stands firm in protecting the places of worship of minorities, ensuring these sanctuaries are preserved amidst conflict."