The Catholic aid agency CAFOD has spoken of its shock after a member of its staff was among those killed in the attack on a Greek Orthodox church in Gaza on Thursday evening.
26 year old Viola who worked for Caritas Jerusalem, was killed along with her infant daughter and husband.
Janet Symes who is CAFOD’s Head of Region for Asia and the Middle East told Premier :
“We’re aware that five staff of our partner organisation Caritas Jerusalem, were there at the time. Tragically, one of their staff, a lab technician in one of their centres, a young woman, was killed along with her toddler child and her husband. And we know that her sister and her sister’s two children were also casualties in the attack.
“My understanding is that they were sheltering there at the time. What we do know is that at that centre, they were providing food blankets, medical assistance, and shelter to all those families. Churches, hospitals, schools, are being used now for hundreds of families in each place to try to get some shelter, to find some degree of safety. But as this event shows us, unfortunately, just nowhere is safe at this time.
“Unfortunately, it's civilians who are bearing the brunt of this terrible situation that we find ourselves in.”
In a statement CAFOD said :
“We are shocked to hear from our partner at Caritas Jerusalem that a staff member along with her child and husband were killed when the hall adjacent to the St. Porphyrios Church in Gaza, was struck last night. Her sister and two children were also among the casualties. The hall provided refuge for 411 people and five Caritas staff members were present.
“We extend our heartfelt condolences to the grieving families and all those injured and affected.
“We stand with the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem in strongly condemning the attack which claimed the lives of innocent civilians, who were sheltering following thirteen days of airstrikes, and call for an immediate cessation to the violence which is causing such suffering and bloodshed.
“Where they are able to, our partners continue to respond, helping those most in need.
“Please pray for all those who have lost loved ones, have been injured and displaced, and live in fear as the violence continues.”