Israeli embassy protests after Vatican denounces Gaza ‘carnage’

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Israel protested with the Vatican on Wednesday after Pope Francis’ deputy defined what is happening in Gaza as “carnage” resulting from a disproportionate Israeli military response to Hamas.

“It is a deplorable statement. Judging the legitimacy of a war without taking into account all relevant circumstances and data inevitably leads to wrong conclusions,” the Israeli embassy to the Holy See said in a statement.

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A day earlier, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin reiterated the “request that Israel’s right to defense, which has been invoked to justify this operation, be proportional, and certainly with 30,000 deaths, it is not.”

“I believe we are all outraged by what is happening, by this carnage, but we must have the courage to move forward and not lose hope,” Parolin said, adding that “we must find other ways to solve the problem of Gaza, the problem of Palestine.”

A Wednesday editorial in the Vatican’s official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, reinforced the message.

“No one can define what is happening in the (Gaza) Strip as ‘collateral damage’ in the fight against terrorism. The right to defense, Israel’s right to bring the perpetrators of the October massacre to justice, cannot justify this carnage,” it said.

At least 1,200 Israelis were killed and around 250 were taken hostage in a raid by Hamas militants on southern Israel on Oct. 7, prompting Israel to retaliate. At least 28,576 Palestinians have since been killed in Israeli strikes, the health ministry in Gaza said on Wednesday.

Noting that Hamas uses hospitals and schools as shields, and suggesting that most of Gaza’s population “actively” supports the group, Israel’s embassy insisted Hamas bears all the blame for the death and destruction in the Palestinian enclave.

The pope, who has issued multiple pleas for peace in the Middle East and elsewhere, has faced previous criticism from Jewish groups over Vatican positions on the Israeli-Gaza conflict.

In November, a messy dispute broke out over whether Francis used the word “genocide” to describe events in Gaza, with Palestinians who met with him insisting that he did, and the Vatican saying he did not.

Read more: Israeli strikes in south Lebanon kill four civilians, wound nine others: Source

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