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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

Tuesday, October 17, 2023: war knows no religion

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

war knows no religion: Our humanity calls us to offer peace and warmth to everyone in need.

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Daily Reflection: war knows no religion

When an Israeli air raid destroyed Walaa Sobeh’s house and much of her neighborhood, the Palestinian Muslim sought shelter in Gaza’s oldest church.

At the Church of Saint Porphyrius, she found not just sanctuary, but a feeling of belonging to “one family” — united by both the terror of bombs exploding around them and a hope that they could survive Israel’s attacks.

So she telephoned other relatives in north Gaza and asked them to make their way to the church, too. Sobeh and her family are among hundreds of Palestinians across different faiths who have found safety — at least for now — at the church.

“We are here living the day, not sure if we can make it to the night. But what eases our pain is the humble and warm spirit of everyone around,” Sobeh said. She described receiving “enormous support from the priests and other people in the church who volunteer tirelessly around the clock to help the displaced families”.

Father Elias said “Our humanity calls us to offer peace and warmth to everyone in need.”

Built between the 1150s and 1160s, and named after the 5th-century bishop of Gaza, Saint Porphyrius has provided solace for generations of Palestinians in Gaza, especially in times of fear.

And while the cries of children and those distraught by continuing to live in Gaza under now echo in a space once filled with prayers and hymns, there is hope.

Today, the church’s ancient yards and sheltered corridors offer shelter to both Muslims and Christians alike, “as war knows no religion”, Father Elias said.

George Shabeen, a Palestinian Christian and a father of four sheltering in the church with his family, said they had nowhere else to go;

“Coming here saved our lives. During the night, we huddle together, Muslims and Christians, old and young, and pray for safety and peace.”

To Sobeh, the fact that families of different religions are together under the church’s roofs amid the trauma of the bombing is in itself an act of resistance. We will continue to be together as Palestinians, dead and alive, Muslims and Christians.

By Mohammed R Mhawesh

Published On 16 Oct 20231

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