Archbishop Alexios, the Greek Orthodox Christian leader of Gaza, told CBN News on Wednesday that Hamas had used the church to fire rockets at Israeli civilians prior to the 72-hour ceasefire. The church was also being used at the time as a shelter for Palestinian civilians of all faiths who were fleeing the war's bombs and rockets.
Hamas used the church and the civilians as human shields--a war crime under international law--in order to deter Israel from striking the rocket launchers, and to cause Israel maximum public relations and diplomatic damage if it did return fire. At least two United Nations facilities housing civilians were struck in that fashion.
Though the White House called Israel's actions in those instances "indefensible," and other world powers rushed to condemn Israel, few bothered to consider that they were playing directly into Hamas's hands, and creating an incentive for Hamas and other terror groups to continue to use the same deadly tactics in future.
The outrage that might have ensued if Israel had struck a church--instead of merely a UN facility--would have been formidable, and could have greatly complicated efforts to rally support for Israel among Christians in the U.S.
Hamas violated the 72-hour ceasefire Friday morning and launched a barrage of rockets at Israeli civilians.