Palestinians, who fled their homes during heavy Israeli shelling in the Shejaia neighbourhood, sleep at the Saint Porfirios church in Gaza City July 22, 2014.
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Despite its thick walls dating back to the Crusades, the Church of Saint Porphyrius was still not a very safe haven. Shortly after they arrived, Israeli aircraft bombed a nearby field, spraying shrapnel on the church and damaging graves.Only about 1,400 Christians – Orthodox, Catholics and Protestants – live among the 1.8 million Muslims, meaning they make up 0.08 percent of the population in the crowded Gaza Strip dominated by Hamas, an Islamist group.When the then-Pope Benedict XVI quoted a medieval scholar describing Islam as violent and irrational in 2006, unknown militants attacked five churches in Palestinian areas, including Saint Porphyrius – even though it is Orthodox, not Catholic.Refugees streaming from Shejaia in the eastern part of Gaza City to the church in the southwestern area of Al-Zaytun said they did not know where else they could go now.
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