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VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - Israel's foreign minister is blasting the Holy See for drawing a moral equivalence between Hamas' massacre of Jewish civilians and Israel's military response in Gaza that is aimed at rescuing hostages and eliminating terrorists.
After a conversation with Abp. Paul Gallagher, the Vatican secretary for relations with states, Israel's minister of foreign affairs, Eli Cohen, stated that "there is no room for unfounded comparisons," according to a press release from Israel's foreign ministry on Sunday.
Cohen demanded "an unequivocal and clear condemnation" from the Vatican "of the murderous acts perpetrated by Hamas terrorists on children, women and the elderly "just because they are Jews and Israelis."
"Hamas, a terrorist organization worse than ISIS, infiltrated Israel with the intent of injuring innocent civilians, while Israel is a democracy trying to protect its citizens from Hamas," Cohen noted.
"It is inconceivable that an announcement expressing concern especially for the residents of Gaza is issued at the same time Israel is burying 1,300 murdered citizens and a vast population lives under continuous missile and rocket attacks," he lamented.
"The world must allow us to defeat murderous Islamic terrorism, or it will come to them," Cohen warned.
In comments to Church Militant, Islamic scholar Robert Spencer declares that "Pope Francis has once again demonstrated the danger of his willful ignorance regarding the nature of Islam and its jihad imperative."
Spencer, author of over 23 books on Islam and the Middle East, elaborates:
This has clearly led Pope Francis into a moral myopia in which he can readily envision Israel violating "humanitarian rights" in Gaza, but he cannot bring himself to call out the adherents of the religion that he imagines to reject every form of violence for quite spectacularly trampling upon humanitarian rights on Oct. 7 and showing no indication that they're unwilling to do it again.
Spencer also points out that the Vatican has failed to address the clause in Hamas' charter that threatens genocide against Israel and refuses to make peace with the Jewish nation.
In its preamble, the Hamas charter states, "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it."
"The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: 'O Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me; come and kill him," declares article 7 of the Hamas charter.
"Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement," article 13 of the charter maintains. "Peace and quiet would not be possible except under the wing of Islam."
In contrast to what some are seeing as the Vatican's lukewarm response to Hamas' butchery of Jews, Italy's foreign minister, Antonio Tajani, unequivocally condemned the terrorist attacks on Israel, comparing it to the Nazi Gestapo's raid on Rome's Jewish ghetto on Oct. 16, 1943.
"Today marks the 80th anniversary of the roundup of the Rome ghetto," Tajani said on Monday. "The atrocities committed by Hamas on the Israeli civilian population recall the ugly page of the genocide of the Jews."
On Saturday, Israel's ambassador to the Holy See, Raphael Schutz, slammed a press release issued by the patriarchs and heads of churches in Jerusalem describing "the dramatic level of death and destruction in Gaza."
"The only party the patriarchs single out by name with a specific demand is Israel, the party that was viciously attacked a week ago," Schutz noted. "What a shame, especially when this comes from people of God."
Responding on Twitter, Schutz excoriated the prelates' statement for emphasizing "a new circle of violence with unjustified attack against all civilians."
"The 'circle of violence' (typical false symmetry expression) started with an unprovoked criminal attack by Hamas + Islamic Jihad (the patriarchs refrain from mentioning their names) murdering more than 1300 Israelis and from other 35 nationalities," he observed.
"Israel's action in self-defense is aimed at Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Israel does not target civilians intentionally. Now read again the above quotation by the Patriarchs and see how unfair, biased and one sided it is," Schutz explained.
The ambassador rebuked the patriarchs for being more concerned about the "well-being" of "this nest of evil and terror" while failing to mention even a single of the "terribly affected places" in Israel.
Schutz also pointed out that the narrative of Gaza's entire population being "deprived of electricity, water, fuel supplies, food" is "simply not true."
"Levels of food and water are monitored daily and are above the threshold defining 'humanitarian crisis,'" he wrote. "There is also sufficient amount of fuel and electricity in the hands of Hamas, but they prefer to use it to continue their terrorist criminal activities against Israel over helping the needs of the population they dominate."
Schutz's response follows a visit by the Vatican's secretary of state, Pietro Parolin, to the Israeli embassy to the Holy See on Friday conveying solidarity for Israel.
Parolin expressed concern for the well-being of the civilian population, both Israeli and Palestinian, especially those in Gaza, amidst the ongoing conflict, Vatican News reported.
Meanwhile, pro-Palestinian protestors turned violent in a demonstration in Rome on Friday, throwing smoke bombs and eggs at police. Shouting anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli slogans, the protestors deviated from the route agreed with police chiefs.
Similar demonstrations also took place in Milan, Naples, Turin, Bari and Florence, in response to former Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal's call for a "Day of Jihad" on Friday. Around 3,000 people attended the demonstration in Milan, and 2,000 were on the streets of Turin.
"The Holy See does seem to tread a delicate path and has been accused of 'parallelism,' which doesn't go down well in Israel," Fr. Benedict Kiely, an ordinariate priest and founder of Nasarean.org, a charity for persecuted Christians, admitted.
"There should be outright condemnation of the slaughter we have seen," Fr. Kiely told the National Catholic Register, warning against the Vatican's "equivocation."
"There is no 'balance' — the idea that two sides are at fault — on this one," the priest stressed. "Hamas kills men, women, children and babies."
While full and formal diplomatic relations between Israel and the Holy See were established in 1993, the Vatican under Pope Francis formally recognized Palestine as a state in 2015.
In 2019, Pope Francis signed the Human Fraternity document with Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, the global leader of Sunni Muslims.