The Israeli Embassy to the Holy See has defined as "regrettable" remarks by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, saying that Israel's attacks on Gaza have been excessive.

Cardinal Parolin, speaking to reporters Feb. 13, said the Vatican continues its "clear and unreserved condemnation of what happened on Oct. 7" when Hamas militants entered Israel, massacred civilians and took more than 200 hostages.

The Vatican also continues its "clear and unreserved condemnation of all forms of antisemitism," the cardinal told reporters after a meeting with top Italian government officials.

At the same time, the cardinal said, the Vatican also "requests that the right to defend itself that Israel has invoked to justify this operation be proportionate, and certainly with 30,000 dead it is not."

An unsigned statement Feb. 14 from the Israeli Embassy to the Holy See said, "This is a regrettable statement. Judging the legitimacy of a war without taking into account ALL relevant circumstances and data inevitably leads to erroneous conclusions."

For example, the statement said, "Gaza has been transformed by Hamas into the largest terrorist base ever seen. There is hardly any civilian infrastructure that has not been used by Hamas for its criminal plans, including hospitals, schools, places of worship and many others."

The embassy also claimed that "the construction of this unprecedented terrorist infrastructure was actively supported by the local civilian population" and that civilians also were involved in the "unprovoked invasion of Israeli territory, killing, raping and taking civilians hostage. All of these acts are defined as war crimes."

And while the embassy said that "all civilian casualties are to be mourned," it also said that "available data" show that three civilians have died for every Hamas member killed.

"In past wars and operations by NATO or Western forces in Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan, the ratio was nine or 10 civilians for every terrorist," so the Israeli Defense Forces' efforts "to avoid civilian deaths" is evident "despite the fact that the battlefield in Gaza is much more complicated," the statement said.

"On this basis," it said, "any objective observer cannot help but come to the conclusion that the responsibility for the death and destruction in Gaza lies with Hamas and Hamas alone."