Gaza’s Christian Community Dwindles as More Than Half Have Fled the Israeli Onslaught

The community has shrunk from 1,700 to 600 since Israel unleashed its onslaught, and nearly all Christian homes have been destroyed

More than half of Gaza’s Christians have fled the enclave since Israel unleashed its onslaught, and the Catholic Church is fearful about the future of the ancient community, Haaretz reported on Wednesday.

Before October 7, about 1,700 Christians were living in Gaza, and that number has shrunk to about 650. The Haaretz report said 450 Catholics are sheltering at the Holy Family Parish in Gaza City, 150 Orthodox Christians are at the St. Porphyrius Church in Gaza City, and about 40-50 Christians are living in the southern city of Khan Younis.

Both the Holy Family Parish and the St. Porphyrius Church have been targeted by Israeli forces. In October, an Israeli airstrike hit part of the St. Porphyrius Church, killing at least 18 Palestinian civilians, including relatives of former US House Rep. Justin Amash. At the time, about 500 Christian and Muslim Palestinians were sheltering there.

In December, the Holy Family Parish came under Israeli siege. Two Catholic women were killed by Israeli gunfire, and seven people were wounded, an attack Pope Francis denounced as “terrorism.” According to Haaretz, a total of 17 Palestinian Christians have been killed by Israel since October 7, mostly from the Orthodox community.

Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, returned from a four-day visit to Gaza on Sunday and said nearly all of the homes of Christians in Gaza had been destroyed and that many were sheltering in classrooms at the Holy Family Parish. “They’ve lost everything. Every classroom is housing one or two families,” he said.

Speaking with reporters after his visit, Pizzaballa said, “The scale of the destruction I witnessed is unbelievable, and the poor living conditions, such as the lack of water and electricity and the absence of security, are dire.”

Pizzaballa also called for an end to the killing in Gaza. “What else can I say? I want to send a clear message to decision-makers. Enough killing! The war must end, and avenues for various aid must be opened to avoid an imminent humanitarian crisis. I hope this nightmare ends quickly,” he said.

In an interview with 60 Minutes that aired Sunday, Pope Francis said he speaks with the priest at the Holy Family Parish, Father Youssef Asaad, every day at 7 pm. “I listen,” the pope said. “The other day they were happy because they managed to eat some meat. The rest of the time they eat flour, things made of flour. Sometimes they go hungry. And they tell me things. And the other people there also speak to me at times. There is a lot of suffering.”

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.