Israeli jets have attacked the Gaza Strip for a fourth day, with raids on a number of Hamas government buildings and security installations, reports Jeremy Reynalds, correspondent for ASSIST News Service.
The BBC reported that according to medical officials, air strikes early on Tuesday killed at least 10 people.
Reports from international media are saying that between 320 and 375 Palestinians have died since Saturday. The BBC said four Israelis have been killed by rockets from Gaza.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for an immediate ceasefire and condemned both Israel and Hamas.
The BBC said while recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself from militant rocket attacks, he condemned its “excessive use of force.”
He added, “The suffering caused to civilian populations as a result of the large-scale violence and destruction that have taken place over the past few days has saddened me profoundly.”
The UN said at least 62 of the Palestinians killed were women and children.
Christians Caught in Bombings
According to a news release from Open Doors Ministry, the small Christian community in Gaza is drawing strength from its faith in God.
Open Doors said in a statement that according to reliable reports, the Gaza Baptist Church building is still standing but has had some of its windows shattered by the bombings. A police station across from the church building was bombed, resulting in about 40 deaths.
Many of the hospitals, already lacking basic medicines and medical equipment, are overwhelmed with the casualties and are often without power.
According to Open Doors, some Christian families left Gaza for Bethlehem over the holidays and with a closed border are now separated from their loved ones.
Open Doors said in its news release that earlier this year one believer in Gaza stated, “Seventy percent of the Christians want to leave Gaza because they are very afraid. But we love Gaza. It’s our country, we have roots here, our homes are here. We will not know anyone if we go somewhere else.”
Open Doors USA President and CEO Carl Moeller said in the news release, “Even before the recent end to the ceasefire (December 19) and the bombings, Christians in Gaza, (whom) we estimate to be around 3,000, have been living in fear due to threats from Islamic militants.”
Moeller added, “We are still grieving after the murder of Christian bookstore manager Rami Ayyad over a year ago. Please join me in prayer for the plight of the Christians in Gaza in the wake of this new outbreak of violence. Pray for peace and a new ceasefire to be put into place quickly. Pray that Christian families will be reunited. Pray that the Gaza Baptist Church building will be spared from the bombs.”
Methodists Call on International Community to Help End Gaza Conflict
Meanwhile, as Israel’s defense minister declared “war to the bitter end” against Hamas on Monday, the Methodist Church urged the international community to put pressure on Israel and Gaza to bring an end to the violence.
A story by Christian Today’s Jennifer Gold reported that the Methodist Church’s Public Issues Policy Advisor, Steve Hucklesby said, “The devastating death toll resulting from Israeli air strikes has shocked many. Rather than improving security, this action by Israel could compound conflict in the region. It is also likely to make it more difficult to bring regional powers together in a search for solutions.”
He added, “Both Hamas and Israel must respond to the UN Security Council call for an immediate end to all military operations.”
Christian Today reported that the Methodist Church is calling on the EU, US and UN to intensify pressure on Hamas to refrain from violence.
“At this time of year when the focus of Christians around the world is on the Holy Land we pray for courageous leadership in the cause of peace,” Christian Today reported Hucklesby said.
Hucklesby warned that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is likely to get worse with the latest crisis.
“Before the recent outbreaks of violence, Gaza was already suffering a dire humanitarian situation. (This) has not been helped by Israel’s blockade and restrictions on relief supplies,” Christian Today reported he said. “Now food, fuel and medical supplies are needed urgently.”
The head of the World Council of Churches, the Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, also called on for an immediate halt to “the violence against Gaza.”
“The deaths and suffering of the last three days are dreadful and shameful and will achieve nothing but more deaths and suffering,” Christian Today reported he said in a statement on Monday.
Report from the Christian Telegraph