15 February 2024

Israel complains after Vatican cardinal refers to ‘carnage’ in Gaza

15 February 2024

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, “regrettable.”

In a statement, the embassy said Parolin had not considered what it called the relevant facts in judging the legitimacy of Israel’s actions.

Speaking on Tuesday at a reception, Mr Parolin condemned the October 7 Hamas attacks against Israel and all forms of antisemitism.

Israel's right to self-defence has been invoked to justify that this operation is proportional, but with 30,000 dead, it's not

But he questioned Israel’s claim to be acting in self-defence by inflicting “carnage” on Gaza.

“Israel’s right to self-defence 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 videoconference 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 Mr 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.

In a front-page editorial on Thursday in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, titled “Stop the Carnage”, Vatican editorial director Andrea Tornielli doubled down on the Vatican position.

Mr 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.

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