A school and convent belonging to the Gaza Strip's tiny Roman Catholic community were ransacked, burned and looted during clashes around a major security headquarters nearby, reported The Associated Press.
Crosses were broken, a statue of Jesus was damaged, and prayer books were burned at the Rosary Sisters School and nearby convent, said Fr. Manuel Musallem. In addition, the doors of the convent were knocked open with mortars and furniture was damaged. Prayer books in the chapel were burned.
The damage reportedly took place Thursday but wasn't reported until days later because of the chaos that has prevailed since Islamic Hamas militants wrested power in Gaza, Fr. Musallem said. The religious compound is located near a key security headquarters Hamas captured Thursday on the final day of its Gaza takeover.
Gunmen used the roof of the school during the fighting, and the convent was desecrated, Fr. Mussallem said.
Seven computers were removed, but three were brought back after the vandalism was reported to the deposed prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh.
Haniyeh condemned the attack on the religious compound and President Mahmoud Abbas of the rival Fatah movement said in statement late Sunday that the “barbaric” attack was the act of Hamas' militia.
Hamas lawmaker Salah Bardawil denied that Hamas was involved, saying: “The Christians are our brothers in Gaza and everywhere, and we will protect their holy places and school, as we do our Islamic schools,” he reportedly said. “But there are some dirty elements who work to harm Hamas' image ... and relations, but this will not happen.”