Tuesday, December 19, 2023

  • Tuesday, December 19, 2023
  • Elder of Ziyon
The news on Saturday was shocking:
Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem Communication Office 
Around noon today, December 16 2023, a sniper of the IDF murdered two Christian women inside the Holy Family Parish in Gaza, where the majority of Christian families has taken refuge since the start of the war. Nahida and her daughter Samar were shot and killed as they walked to the Sister's Convent. One was killed as she tried to carry the other to safety. Seven more people were shot and wounded as they tried to protect others inside the church compound. No warning was given, no notification was provided. They were shot in cold blood inside the premises of the Parish, where there are no belligerents. 
This accusation, that Israeli snipers murdered the women, was reported as fact across the world.  For example, The Telegraph: 
Christian mother and daughter shot dead by Israeli sniper in church grounds in Gaza City
Nahida and her daughter Samar [Antoun] were killed in 'cold blood' inside the Holy Family Parish in Gaza, where Christian families have taken refuge

At first, an IDF spokesperson said that there was some activity at a completely different church in Gaza, as Fox News reported:
"When reviewing incidents that may have taken place in the vicinity of churches in Gaza, it was found that an incident took place during yesterday afternoon (Saturday) in another area in Gaza, near the Latin Church in the Shejayia area," an IDF spokesperson told Fox News Digital in a statement.
The statement continued, "An initial review suggests that IDF troops, who were operating against Hamas terrorists in the area, operated against a threat that they identified in the area of the church. The IDF is conducting a thorough review of the incident." 
For some reason, the Christian Post read that statement as an admission of guilt by the IDF that they killed the mother and daughter:
The Israeli Defense Forces have confirmed that their soldiers shot and killed two Christian women on the grounds of Gaza City’s only Catholic church. An IDF spokesperson acknowledged the civilian casualties to the media, following revelations of the incident by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Pierbattista Pizzaballa.

The IDF spokesperson, in a statement to Fox News Digital, confirmed the incident which took place near the church in the Shejayia area of Gaza during an operation against Hamas terrorists.
This is certainly not true.  Shejaiya is miles away from the Holy Family church.  But church media ran with it, and the lie that Israel admitted the murders flew around the Vatican and the globe.

Possibly the confusion comes from the IDF statement saying that there were operations near the "Latin church in the Shejayia area." There is no Latin church there; Holy Family is the only parish under the Jerusalem Latin Patriarchate. Shejaiya is the location of the Church of Saint Porphyrius (Greek Orthodox) and St. Philip the Evangelist chapel (Episcopalian.)  The IDF statement calling one of those the "Latin church" might have been the source of this mistake. 

Unfortunately, the Vatican later added its own embellishments on the story:
The Holy See later republished [Latin Patriarch] Pizzaballa's report with further commentary through its official news agency, Vatican News.

"The Israeli military on Saturday entered the compound of the Holy Family Catholic Parish in Gaza, shooting at anyone leaving the church," the statement via Vatican News reads. "The victims are an elderly woman and her daughter who rushed out of the building to rescue her mother. Israel has justified the attack, claiming the presence of a missile launcher in the parish."
None of that is true! With all due respect to the Vatican, no one even made the accusation that there were IDF soldiers inside the church compound, at least not at first. This story gets more outrageous at each retelling. 

Finally, the next day, the IDF announced the results of its investigation showing that it was not responsible for any deaths at the church, but it still wasn't as clear as it should have been:

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has denied culpability over the deaths of two Christian Palestinian women who were reportedly killed at the Holy Family Parish complex in Gaza on Saturday morning.

In an emailed statement to CNA, the IDF said that it had received the letter “describing a tragic incident that took place in the Holy Family Parish.” 

On Saturday, “representatives of the church contacted the IDF regarding explosions that were heard near the church,” the IDF said.

“During the dialogue between the IDF and representatives of the community, no reports of a hit on the church, nor civilians being injured or killed, were raised.” 

“A review of the IDF’s operational findings support this,” the statement said.

The IDF did not respond to a follow-up query asking explicitly if the army was refuting or challenging the reports that an IDF sniper killed two women at the parish. 
The Washington Post adds:
Tal Heinrich, a spokeswoman from the Israeli prime minister’s office, also addressed the incident on Monday, asserting that “there was no fighting in the Rimal neighborhood on Saturday where this Catholic church was located.”
That is referring to the Holy Family church, which is in Rimal, not the church in Shejayia.

While the language could have been clearer,  the IDF is saying that it did not do anything near the church where the Antouns were.

Which means that either the IDF is lying, or it was a Hamas or other Gaza sniper who murdered these two women.

Let's go back to the original report from the Latin Patriarchate. That memo gave no evidence that the sniper was IDF. No one saw the sniper. The Christians assumed that it must be the IDF - the Latin Patriarchate has a history of being viciously anti-Israel and of following the official Islamist line, and the churches in the region have all been quite antisemitic since before Zionism. Even when persecuted, they never publicly accuse Hamas of mistreating them. If the shooter was wearing a green headband and yelled :"Allahu Akbar" while shooting, Gaza Christians still would try to avoid blaming Hamas. We've seen plenty of stories about how frightened Christians are under Palestinian rule, and virtually all of them are anonymous testimony. They are very scared of their Muslim neighbors. 

Now, which is more likely - that the IDF is sniping civilian Christian women, or that Islamists who hate Christians are using this war as an opportunity to not only murder Christians but to do it in an environment where everyone would blame Israel?

Israel has no reason to lie. The downside of being caught in a lie is far worse than admitting that they made a mistake, and the IDF has admitted to plenty of mistakes in this war and in previous actions. The IDF is very careful around churches. It makes no sense to think the IDF murdered the women, and the only evidence of that comes from "witnesses" who didn't see the sniper at all and whose testimony changes each time they speak.

Which means that Hamas, or another terror group in Gaza, murdered Nahida and Samar Antoun.

Is it really out of the question that Hamas fires at Gaza civilians? Just last week we saw video of armed Hamas members hijacking aid trucks and shooting towards their fellow Gazans.

When so much of Hamas' military strategy is based on making Israel look bad to the world which would then pressure Israel to stop fighting, why is it even strange to think that Hamas is capable and willing to sacrifice a couple of Christians if it helps them save their own skins?

In the end, there is no direct evidence we know of that shows which side killed the Antouns. Yet only one side gains from their being executed. That happens to be the side that has not a tiny vestige of morality. Either it was a horrible IDF mistake and the IDF is lying, or a deliberate Hamas murder where Hamas gains a great deal - newspapers around the world and the Vatican itself directly accusing Israel of the crime. 

Which scenario makes more sense? 

The women were murdered by Hamas or their allies. And Hamas wins because the world reflexively believes that every death in Gaza must be from Israel, without bothering to look at the facts critically and honestly. 

Buy the EoZ book, PROTOCOLS: Exposing Modern Antisemitism  today at Amazon!

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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