Vatican, Israel Scrap Over Gaza Remark

Cleric defends calling Palestinian enclave 'concentration camp'
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 8, 2009 12:51 PM CST
Pope Benedict XVI during the traditional speech to the Holy See's diplomatic corps, at the Vatican, Thursday, Jan 8, 2009.   (AP Photo/Vincenzo Pinto, Pool)
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(Newser) – Israel slammed a Vatican official today for calling Gaza “a big concentration camp,” Reuters reports. Israel denounced the comparison by Cardinal Renato Martino as “the vocabulary of Hamas propaganda.” “We are astounded to hear from a spiritual dignitary words that are so far removed from truth and dignity,” said a spokesman for the country’s foreign ministry.

Martino, however, defended his remarks: Gazans “are surrounded by a wall that is difficult to breach, in conditions that go against human dignity," he told Italy’s La Repubblica. Meanwhile, Pope Benedict gave his “state of the world” speech to diplomats at the Vatican, taking both sides to task: “Violence, wherever it comes from and whatever form it takes, must be firmly condemned.”