IDF rebuffs accusations it killed two women at church in Gaza as investigation continues

The Israeli Defense Forces is pushing back against reports concerning two Christian women killed during fighting within the area of Gaza’s only Catholic Church over the weekend.  

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem claimed in a press release Saturday an IDF sniper murdered two Christian women inside the Holy Family Parish in Gaza, where the majority of Christian families have taken refuge since the start of Israel’s war with Hamas. 

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa wrote in a report, later republished by the Holy See, that a woman named Nahida Khalil Anton and her daughter, Samar Kamal Anton, were "shot and killed as they walked to the Sisters’ Convent." 

"One was killed as she tried to carry the other to safety," said Pizzaballa, who is also a Catholic cardinal. Seven more people were shot and wounded as they tried to protect others inside the church compound.

The IDF later said "Following the reports of two women that were shot in the area of the Latin Church in Shejaya, the IDF has finished conducting an initial review of the incident. The review found that on December 17th, in the early afternoon, Hamas terrorists launched a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) at IDF troops from the vicinity of the church." 

"The troops then identified three people in the vicinity, operating as spotters for Hamas by guiding their attacks in the direction of the IDF troopers," it continued. "In response, our troops fired towards the spotters and hits were identified." 

"The IDF directs its operations against the Hamas terrorist organization and not against civilians, regardless of their religious affiliation," it also said. "The IDF takes many measures to mitigate harm to civilians in the Gaza Strip."

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