Christians bury first casualty of Israel's Gaza onslaught

Christians bury first casualty of Israel's Gaza onslaught
Mon Jul 28, 2014 14:53:31

Jalila Ayyad's widower George still had a black eye and bloodstains on his shirt as he processed ahead of her coffin, hours after the Israeli airstrike that destroyed their home.

Jalila, 60, was the first Christian casualty of a bloody Gaza war.

She is also survived by two sons, but one could not be at her funeral because he is in hospital with serious wounds suffered in Sunday afternoon's Israeli strike.

The simple coffin -- white with a black cross -- was carried reverently down the marble stairs of the cemetery, and into the chapel of the Saint Porphyrius Greek Orthodox church in Gaza City.

"She died under the rubble," said Jalila's nephew, Fuad Ayyad.

"Both her legs were crushed after the house collapsed with her, her husband and son inside."

Her funeral was a somber affair, but momentarily took on a political dimension when one member of the parish picked up a microphone and railed against Israel's bombardment of the small Palestinian coastal territory.

"This Palestinian Arab Christian woman died in shelling by the Israeli occupation," the speaker shouted angrily.

"There are massacres here every day. This is what happens to the Palestinian people. Where's the world, where's the international community in all this?"

"The bombs hit and kill -- they don't discriminate between civilian and fighter," he said.

Gaza's Christians have dwindled in number to around 1,500, most of them Greek Orthodox, out of a predominantly Sunni Muslim population of 1.7 million in the densely packed enclave.

The war has killed more than 1,050 Palestinians, most of them civilians including a large number of women and children.


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