The BBC reports that Martino's
words mark the Vatican's toughest comments since Israel began its offensive with intensive air attacks 12 days ago.The Cardinal's comments do not help anyone but Hamas and only serve to inflame passions against the Jewish state of Israel. Martino's comments essentially the same as the Muslim woman in the Fort Lauderdale, Fla. demonstration Dec 30, 2008. As the crowds of pro-Hamas and pro-Israel crowds grew, one hijabbed woman began shouting vile epithets at the Jewish demonstrators.
He accused both sides of only thinking of their own interests while innocent people paid the price.
Pope Benedict XVI has already called for an end to the conflict.
Cardinal Martino, president of the Vatican's Council for Justice and Peace, made the comment to Italian online site Il Sussidiario.
"Defenceless populations are always the ones who pay," he said.
"Look at the conditions in Gaza: more and more, it resembles a big concentration camp."
The BBC's David Willey in Rome says relations between Israel and the Vatican have been strained recently, after the Pope made it clear that he favoured making Pope Pius XII a saint.
The controversial wartime pope was accused by some Jews of turning a blind eye to the holocaust.
Cardinal Martino's comments were immediately criticised by Israel, who said the Vatican was repeating Hamas propaganda.
"Go back to the oven," she shouted, calling for the counter-protesters to die in the manner that the Nazis used to exterminate Jews during the Holocaust.
"You need a big oven, that's what you need," she yelled.
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