Israel criticized Pope Francis’ statement of concern for the Palestinian people that called for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to cease its military operations, Catholic publication Crux reported on Sunday.
The pope said it brought him “great sorrow” to witness the bloodshed in Israel and “Palestine,” and called for an immediate cease-fire between all sides involved in the conflict, during his weekly Angelus address on Sunday, according to Crux. Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen denounced the Pope’s expression of concern “primarily” for Gaza civilians over Israelis and demanded a “clear and unequivocal” condemnation of the Hamas Oct. 7 terrorist attacks.
The world must allow us to defeat murderous Islamic terrorism, or it will come to them.
I would like to thank the Minister of Foreign Affairs of France @MinColonna who came to Israel to show support. She met with family members of the kidnapped, talked with the wounded, and saw… pic.twitter.com/0iquEQGI2B
— אלי כהן | Eli Cohen (@elicoh1) October 15, 2023
“Humanitarian law must be respected, above all in Gaza, where it’s urgent and necessary to guarantee humanitarian corridors and to protect the entire population,” the pope said on Sunday. “Brothers and sisters, there are already so many dead. Please, don’t shed innocent blood, not in the Holy Land, or in Ukraine, or in any other place!”
“Enough! Wars are always a defeat, always!” the pope said.
Cohen told British Archbishop Paul Gallagher in a subsequent phone call that the pope’s statement was “unacceptable.”
“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 said during the phone call on Sunday, according to Crux. “[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.”
In response to the Hamas attacks that killed over 1,300 Israelis, Israel has launched a sweeping counteroffensive in the Gaza Strip and began airstrikes on military targets in the region. Israel also called for innocent residents to immediately evacuate Gaza, as the IDF is likely planning a ground assault, though a timeline for that operation is unclear.
The Vatican did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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