Saturday, February 17, 2024

Israel complains after Catholic Church denounces Gaza carnage

Al Mayadeen English on X: ""Israel" protested with the #Vatican after Pope  Francis' deputy described what is happening in #Gaza as "carnage" resulting  from a disproportionate Israeli military response. A day earlier,

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 Wednesday, the embassy said Parolin had not considered what it called the relevant facts in judging the legitimacy of Israel’s actions, which is questionable in its own right.

Speaking Tuesday 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-defense 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’s position on the war, including when Pope Francis spoke about terrorism without referring to Hamas. 

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 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 the Italian language statement originally emailed to Vatican journalists, the embassy used the term “deplorevole” or deplorable to describe Parolin’s comments. 

On Thursday, the embassy clarified that its original statement was written in English and had referred to Parolin’s comments as “regrettable.”

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 defense, the right of Israel to ensure justice for those responsible for the October massacre, cannot justify this carnage.”

Friday’s edition of the Vatican newspaper featured a front-page article reporting that a group of rabbis had written to Francis thanking him for his February 2 letter to Israeli Jews. 

According to excerpts of the letter, the rabbis praised the commitment of the Catholic Church to transform its relationship with the Jewish people from one of rivalry and incomprehension into one of friendship.

War broke out between Israel and Hamas following the terror group’s attack on Israel on October 7 which saw 1,200 people, mostly civilians, killed and 253 taken hostage.

The ensuing Israeli offensive has killed over 28,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry. 

These numbers cannot be independently verified and do not differentiate between civilians and terrorists or Palestinians killed by the misfired rockets of terror groups in the Gaza Strip. 

Israel says it has killed nearly 11,000 Hamas operatives since the war began and 1,000 inside Israeli territory on October 7, verification of which has remained unpublished amidst its ongoing carnage in Gaza.