Israel Calls on Pope Francis to Issue ‘Clear and Unequivocal’ Condemnation of Hamas Terror Attack

2.12.2013 Vaticano. Udienza privata del Papa Francesco al Primo Ministro di Israele Benjam
Alessandra Benedetti/Corbis via Getty

ROME — Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen has sharply criticized the Vatican’s lukewarm words on the October 7 Hamas terror attack in Gaza, calling for an “unequivocal condemnation” of the lethal aggression.

The Times of Israel reported Sunday that Cohen told the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, that Israel “expects the Vatican to come out with a clear and unequivocal condemnation of the murderous terrorist actions of Hamas terrorists who harmed women, children and the elderly for the sole fact that they are Jews and Israelis.”

“It is unacceptable that you put out a statement expressing worry primarily for Gazan civilians while Israel is burying 1,300 who were murdered,” Cohen added.

On October 11, Pope Francis appealed for the immediate release of Israeli hostages held by the Hamas terror group but also criticized Israel’s “total siege” on Palestinians in Gaza.

“It is the right of those who are attacked to defend themselves, but I am very concerned about the total siege under which the Palestinians are living in Gaza, where there have also been many innocent victims,” Francis said.

File/Pope Francis’ visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, with President Shimon Peres and PM Benjamin Netanyahu on May 26, 2014. (NurPhoto/Corbis via Getty Images)

“Terrorism and extremism do not help reach a solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, but fuel hatred, violence, revenge, and only cause each other to suffer,” he said.

Shortly afterward, American Catholic intellectual George Weigel criticized the pope for reverting to the Vatican’s “default position” of appealing to both sides for restraint in a case where a more straightforward condemnation was in order.

The Israeli Embassy to the Holy See also issued a statement warning against Vatican declarations that could suggest equal guilt of victims and perpetrators of Saturday’s atrocities.

On Sunday, Francis again called for the release of the hostages while insisting that “children, the sick, the elderly, women, and all civilians not be made victims of the conflict.”

“Humanitarian law is to be respected, especially in Gaza, where it is urgent and necessary to ensure humanitarian corridors and to come to the aid of the entire population,” he said.


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