Israeli embassy tones down criticism of Vatican’s Gaza remarks

Israeli embassy tones down criticism of Vatican’s Gaza remarks

VATICAN (Reuters): Israel on Thursday toned down its criticism of the Vatican, saying that remarks by Pope Francis’ deputy on the killings in Gaza were “regrettable” rather than “deplorable”

Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin had said on Tuesday that Israel’s military response to the Hamas militant group was disproportionate and caused “carnage.”

A day later, Israel’s embassy to the Holy See lashed out at Parolin’s “deplorable statement” and said the Palestinian militant group Hamas bore all the blame for the death and destruction in the enclave.

But on Thursday, the embassy said it should have used the word “regrettable,” and that the mix-up was the result of an imprecise translation.

Pope Francis has regularly condemned violence across the Middle East and beyond. But any comments involving Israel have particular historical and cultural sensitivities, built up over centuries.

Relations between the Vatican and Israel have grown increasingly tense since the start of the war in Gaza, with Jewish groups accusing Pope Francis of failing to describe the invasion of the Palestinian enclave as an act of self-defense after the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks.

The Israeli embassy said on Thursday 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.

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, according to Israeli figures.

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