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Iran compares Israel to ISIS after Christians killed in Gaza church explosion

Nature

Iran’s foreign minister on Saturday compared Israel to ISIS after a historic church in Gaza City was damaged in an Israeli strike, causing numerous casualties.

On October 7, Hamas carried out the deadliest Palestinian militant attack in history on Israel, and Israel subsequently launched its heaviest-ever airstrikes on Gaza in response. As of Saturday, more than 1,400 people had been killed in Israel, the Associated Press reported. While more than 4,000 Palestinians have died in Gaza, the AP said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country was “at war” and had cut off supplies of food, fuel, electricity and medicine to Gaza. Israel has called up 360,000 reservists as it prepares for a likely ground offensive on the territory, whose population is estimated at around 2.3 million.

On Thursday evening, an explosion rocked the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Porphyrios in Gaza City, the oldest church in the region, which then served as shelter for hundreds of Palestinians. Palestinian authorities and the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem blamed the incident on the Israeli military, with the latter issuing a statement strongly condemning it as “a war crime that cannot be ignored.”

The damage caused to the historic church in Gaza on Thursday evening is visible. Iran’s foreign minister on Saturday compared Israel to ISIS in response to the incident.
Dawood Nemer/AFP via Getty Images

In a report, Reuters cited Gaza authorities as saying 18 Palestinian Christians were killed in a church explosion. News week could not independently confirm these figures.

On Saturday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian compared Israel to ISIS, the Islamist militant group that the United States designates as a terrorist organization, in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. The message was reported by Tasnim, an Iranian news agency run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the country’s military.

“The savagery of this pariah regime and its acts of aggression and desecration of divine religions as well as its attacks on the historical and cultural heritage of humanity are all similar to (the methods of) uncivilized terrorist groups and Daesh ( another title for the Islamic State,” he wrote.

News week contacted Israeli officials by email for comment.

In response to a request for News weekThe Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed that a strike it launched caused damage to the church, but also stated “unequivocally…that the church was not the target of the strike” and stressed that the incident was under investigation.

“Yesterday evening, IDF warplanes targeted the command and control center belonging to a Hamas terrorist, involved in launching rockets and mortars towards Israel,” the unit said. “The command and control center was used to carry out attacks against Israel and contained infrastructure belonging to the terrorist organization Hamas. As a result of the IDF attack, a wall of a church in the central area was damaged. reports of casualties. The incident is under investigation.