U.S. Rep. Justin Amash said Friday that he has confirmed that "several" of his relatives were killed amid intense fighting between the Israel Defense Forces and Hamas as they sheltered at the Saint Porphyrius Orthodox Church in the Gaza Strip. He said he was made aware that part of the structure they were taking cover in was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike.
Rep. Amash said in a message on X, "may their memories be eternal."
The Congressional representative from Michigan said, "The Palestinian Christian community has endured so much. Our family is hurting badly. May God watch over all Christians in Gaza—and all Israelis and Palestinians who are suffering, whatever their religion or creed.
I was really worried about this. 😔 With great sadness, I have now confirmed that several of my relatives (including Viola and Yara pictured here) were killed at Saint Porphyrius Orthodox Church in Gaza, where they had been sheltering, when part of the complex was destroyed as… pic.twitter.com/w5k1xEeTgF
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) October 20, 2023
The U.S. State Department said at least 32 Americans have been killed and 10 remained unaccounted for, including 9 U.S. citizens and one permanent resident.
On Friday President Joe Biden and the Israeli government confirmed they had secured two American hostages who were held in Gaza. A spokesperson for the Israeli Prime Minister's Office said Judith Raanan and her teenage daughter Natalie Raanan were received by security forces at the border of the Gaza Strip.
A Michigan man visiting with family in Gaza made an emotional plea in a video to the American government to do more to rescue Americans trapped in the Palestinian territories, especially in the Gaza Strip, as food and water supplies are dwindling.
Zakaria Alarayshi and his family — who have lived in Livonia, Michigan for the last 23 years — traveled back to Gaza just before Hamas militants attacked targets in Israel, including a music festival near the border with Gaza.
President Joe Biden returned this week from a swift wartime visit to the region, which included Tel Aviv, to reinforce America's strong support for the Jewish state while working to keep the conflict with Hamas from escalating. A top priority during the trip was to facilitate the movement of humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza, an agreement some experts say still faces risks.
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