Caritas network confirms devastating attack on the Holy Family School in Gaza

Caritas office frontage amid the destruction in Gaza. Photo credit: Caritas Jerusalem.

The Caritas network has received communications from The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem confirming that on the morning of the 7th of July, the Holy Family School in the North of Gaza was bombarded, causing serious destruction in the compound, and resulting in civilian casualties.  

The school, a property of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, was a place of refuge for hundreds of civilians whose homes were destroyed. Prior to the conflict, the Latin Patriarchate had described the Holy Family School, where 657 students were educated, as “the best school in Gaza, providing a high standard of education, cultural exchange, a Christian atmosphere and religious instructions for Christian children”. 

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem stated that it “condemns in the strongest terms the targeting of civilians or any belligerent actions that fall short of ensuring that civilians remain outside the combat scene”, adding that those sheltering at the school had “hoped against all odds that their families and children would be safe, but there is no safe place in Gaza”. 

“We continue to pray for the Lord’s mercy and hope that the Parties will reach an agreement that would put an immediate end to the horrifying bloodbath and humanitarian catastrophe in the region” the statement concluded. 

The attack comes as a newly published report from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) indicates that 96 per cent of Gaza’s population face high levels of acute food insecurity.  

The Rafah border has been closed since May 7th, making aid delivery in the south incredibly hard. However, since the opening of the Erez West crossing on May 13th, a Caritas partner has opened three warehouses and two distribution points in the north, and distributed ready-to-eat food, bedding kits, shelter and water, sanitation, and hygiene items to 4,600 households.  

Humanitarian Emergencies Lead at Caritas Australia, Sally Thomas said of the devastating news, “Shelters like the Holy Family School are an important part of continued efforts to deliver lifesaving aid. This attack has not only removed shelter from all those residing there but made humanitarian efforts that much harder. New shelter will have to be found for those displaced – many of whom have been displaced multiple times – and it is likely they will be separated from the community they built there. 

“We are immensely proud of our partners in Gaza, who continue to adapt under changing border restrictions and unpredictable military activity. However, we continue to call for a ceasefire to enable civilians to be kept safe, and humanitarian aid to be safely delivered at scale. Without this, civilian lives will undoubtedly continue to be lost with children heavily impacted, given over half the population of Gaza is under 15 years of age.”