by Saud Abu Ramadan
GAZA, July 30 (Xinhua) -- When rescue workers were searching under the rubble of the house of Jalila Ayyad, a 65-year-old Christian women from Gaza, they found pieces of torn Bibles and her body, as she was already dead from an Israeli airstrike on her house.
Ayyad, a member of a minority community of 3,000 in Gaza, was the first Palestinian Christian to be killed in the conflict between Israel and Hamas-led militants in the Gaza Strip. The family, including Jalila, her husband and her son, were at home when two missiles struck an unconstructed land adjacent to their houses.
Kamel Ayyad, Jalila's nephew said that the house, which was badly damaged by the Israeli missiles, was fired without any Israeli warning to the family, adding that huge explosions killed the old woman and wounded her son and husband, after the whole house fell on their heads.
"This family has no relationship with any of the armed groups in the Gaza Strip. Israeli strikes and shelling are targeting everyone and everywhere," said Ayyad, as dozens of Muslims and Christians joined the funeral of the old woman.
The coffin was brought to the only old Orthodox Church in the old city of Gaza, where the yard of the church was overflowing with Muslims who fled their homes in eastern Gaza City and took refuge at the church. They also participated in the burial of the woman.
In 2012, during the 8-day aerial operation on the Gaza Strip, a 53-year-old Christian man was killed in one of the Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. He was hit with Israeli missile shrapnel, when Israeli war jets struck a building in the city's main street.
Ibrahim Jahshan, a Christian from Gaza, told Xinhua that the blood of the Muslims and the Christians was mixed. "We are brothers, neighbors and friends," said Jahshan. "When a missile or a tank shell is fired, it doesn't differentiate between a Muslim and a Christian."
"Carrying out such an overwhelming war on Gaza aims at killing as many as Palestinians, weakening them and forcing them to leave their lands and escaping to other countries," said Jahshan, adding that historically, Palestinian Christians have always been part of the long story of struggle.
Atallah Hanna, the bishop of the Greek Orthodox in the Palestinian territories, condemned the Israeli attack on Gaza, adding that the church has addressed dozens of letters to the international community, urging an immediate stop of the killing.
Manuel Musallam, the Bishop of the Latin Church and chairman of the Christians department in Palestine Liberation Organization ( PLO), said after Israeli war jets destroyed dozens of mosques in Gaza that the doors of churches in the strip are open to all prayers. Since July 8 when Israel launched a large-scale offensive on Gaza, 1,253 Palestinians have already been killed, and more than 7, 000 others wounded. Hundreds of houses were struck by Israeli missiles and artillery shelling, leaving thousands of poor displaced people.