The Church of St. Porphyrius in Gaza City is Gaza’s oldest active church, built in the year 1150. On October 20, St. Porphyrius Church was struck by Israeli artillery, killing 18 people and injuring 20 more.
The church’s architecture was defined by its low-lying rectangular shape and half-domed roof. Its exterior was faced with marble and granite. Inside, the ornate ceiling depicted religious imagery and figures that have been painted on. It was renovated in 1856.
As reported by The Washington Post, the blast was confirmed by Maher Ayyad, a 72-year-old medical director at Gaza’s al-Ahli Hospital where 471 Palestinians were killed and 300 injured earlier this week. Gaza journalist Younis Tirawi released footage on his Twitter of people at St. Porphyrius sifting through the rubble after the church bombing, looking for survivors.
مذبحة بحق أبناء شعبنا من الطائفة المسيحية، جيش الاحتلال قصف كنيسة بورفيليوس الأثرية في غزة. وفقاً للراهب ميتري، راعي كنيسة الميلاد الإنجيلية، عدد الشهداء ارتفع الى ٤٠!
وفقاً لمؤسسة الأرثوذكسية المقدسة للقديس جاورجيوس، قصف الاحتلال صالة الكنيسة باربع صواريخ و يقدرون ١٥٠ شهيداً pic.twitter.com/oopSTAGVb1
— Younis Tirawi | يونس (@ytirawi) October 19, 2023
St. Porphyrius is one of several places of worship that have been struck by Israeli missile fire in recent weeks. It has previously served as place of shelter for Palestinians during past Israeli shellings, namely in 2014 during the Gaza War. Al Jazeera reported that 18 religious buildings have been destroyed in Gaza since October 7, including mosques in Gaza City, Khan Younis, Beit Lahia, and Yarmouk; 19 medical centers have been destroyed or badly damaged; 90 schools have been struck by missiles (2 of which were emergency shelters); and 49 media offices including the Palestine Tower in Gaza.
A previous version of the article incorrectly stated that St. Porphyrius Church was built in 407. The church was actually built in 1150; its location has been a religious site since the 5th century.