The Vatican offered on Friday to mediate between Israel and Palestinian militants for the release of hostages in Gaza and to facilitate peace, but said the Israeli response to the "inhuman" Hamas attack must respect "proportionality."
Israel's military on Friday called for all civilians of Gaza City, more than 1 million people, to relocate south within 24 hours as it amassed tanks for an expected invasion in response to a devastating Oct. 7 assault by militant group Hamas.
In an interview with Vatican media, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican's Secretary of State, said the Holy See remains firmly convinced that a two-state solution is the only way to guarantee lasting peace in the region.
"The release of Israeli hostages and the protection of innocent lives in Gaza are at the heart of the problem created by Hamas' attack and the response of the Israeli army," said Parolin, who is the Vatican's top diplomat and number two after Pope Francis in the Holy See's hierarchy.
"The Holy See is ready for any necessary mediation"
"They are at the center of all of our concerns: the pope and the entire international community. The Holy See is ready for any necessary mediation, as always," he said.
Parolin added: "It is necessary to regain a sense of reason, abandon the blind logic of hatred, and reject violence as a solution. It is the right of those who are attacked to defend themselves, but even legitimate defense must respect the parameter of proportionality."
More than 1,500 Palestinians have been killed in retaliatory Israeli air and artillery strikes since the surprise Hamas cross-border assault that killed more than 1,300 people, mostly civilians in nearby towns and kibbutzes.
Parolin called for direct talks between Israel and Hamas in order to "avoid further bloodshed, as is happening in Gaza, where many innocent civilian victims have been caused by the Israeli army's attacks."
Any lasting solution, Parolin said in the interview, had to take into consideration Israeli settlements in occupied territory and the status of Jerusalem. Israel says the city is its "united and eternal capital" but Palestinians see the eastern part of the city as the capital of a future state.
The Israeli embassy to the Vatican said Parolin paid a visit to the mission on Friday morning to express his "deep sentiments of pain and solidarity" over the attacks by Hamas.