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ROME: Israel has formally complained after a senior Vatican official spoke of “carnage” in Gaza and what he termed a disproportionate Israeli military operation following the October 7 Hamas attacks. The Israeli Embassy to the Holy See called the comments by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, “deplorable.” In a statement Wednesday, the embassy said Parolin hadn’t considered what it called the relevant facts in judging the legitimacy of Israel’s actions.
Speaking Monday at a reception, Parolin condemned the October 7 Hamas attacks against Israel and all forms of antisemitism.But he questioned Israel’s claim to be acting in self-defence by inflicting “carnage” on Gaza.
“Israel’s right to self-defense has been invoked to justify that this operation is proportional, but with 30,000 dead, it’s not,” he said.
Israel has objected previously to the Vatican position on the war, including when Pope Francis spoke about “terrorism.” Francis, who speaks daily via video conference to a Gaza parish housing Palestinian civilians, has since tried to be more balanced in his comments and recently wrote a letter to the Jewish people in which he reaffirmed the special relationship between Christians and Jews.
In its statement complaining about Parolin, the Israeli Embassy accused Hamas of turning the Gaza Strip into “the biggest terrorist base ever seen.” It said Israeli armed forces were acting according to international law and said the proportion of Palestinian civilians to “terrorists” killed was less than in other conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
But in a front-page editorial Thursday in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano titled “Stop the Carnage,” Vatican editorial director Andrea Tornielli doubled down on the Vatican position. Tornielli quoted a Rome-based Holocaust survivor, Edith Bruck, who has been highly critical of the Israeli government’s response, which she has blamed for the rise in antisemitic acts against Jews around the world.
“No one can define what is happening in the Strip as collateral damage’ from the fight against terrorism,” Tornielli wrote. “The right of defence, the right of Israel to ensure justice for those responsible for the October massacre, cannot justify this carnage.”