Cardinal Parolin criticises Israel’s response to Gaza attacks, Israel responds

Cardinal Parolin

Cardinal Pietro Parolin denounced the October 7 Hamas attacks against Israel and all forms of antisemitism while raising concerns about Israel’s assertion of self-defence amidst the “carnage” inflicted on Gaza.

Questioning the proportionality of Israel’s military operation, Parolin highlighted the significant death toll.

“Israel’s right of self-defence which has been invoked to justify this operation must be proportional and, with 30,000 dead, it certainly isn’t” Parolin stated.

The Israeli Embassy to the Holy See initially described Parolin’s comments as “deplorable”. The embassy asserted that Parolin overlooked pertinent facts when assessing the legitimacy of Israel’s actions.

Accusing Hamas of transforming Gaza into a significant terrorist stronghold, the Israeli Embassy defended the actions of the Israeli armed forces (IDF). They cited compliance with international law and compared civilian casualty rates to other conflicts.

Pope Francis has consistently denounced violence in the Middle East, yet comments involving Israel are particularly sensitive due to historical and cultural complexities.

Tensions between the Vatican and Israel have escalated since the Gaza conflict began, with Israeli groups accusing Pope Francis of failing to recognise Israeli actions as self-defensive after Hamas attacks.

Rabbis thank Pope

Meanwhile, a group of Rabbis and scholars specialising in Jewish-Christian dialogue have penned a heartfelt letter to Pope Francis, expressing profound gratitude for his unwavering support of Jews globally.

Signed by prominent figures such as Rabbi Jehoshua Ahrens, Rabbi Yitz Greenberg and others, the letter underscores the transformative impact of the Church’s efforts in fostering understanding and friendship between once-opposing communities.

In light of recent tragedies and escalating tensions including the October massacre and the surge in anti-Semitic incidents worldwide, the letter resonates deeply with Pope Francis’ call for reconciliation among diverse peoples.

Translation error

In regard to its response to Parolin’s statement, the Israeli Embassy later said that “regrettable” would have been a more appropriate word than “deplorable”.

The embassy attributed the misunderstanding to a translation error.

The Israeli embassy said the original English text of its statement had used the word “regrettable” and its staff had translated that into “deplorevole” in the Italian version they released.

“A more precise” Italian translation would have been “sfortunata” the embassy said, a word which means something more like unfortunate.

According to Israeli figures, at least 1,200 Israelis were killed and around 250 taken hostage in a raid by Hamas militants on southern Israel on October 7.

The offensive that Israel launched in response has so far killed 28,663 Palestinians in Gaza, according to health authorities in the Hamas-run territory.


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