Vatican official: Gaza is now a 'concentration camp'
Agence France-Presse
Published: Wednesday January 7, 2009

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THE Gaza Strip has been turned into a "concentration camp" by two weeks of Israeli bombardments, said a senior Vatican official.

Cardinal Renato Martino, the Vatican's justice and peace minister, was quoted by the online Italian daily Il Sussidiario.

"Let's look at the conditions in Gaza: these increasingly resemble a big concentration camp," said Cardinal Martino.

Cardinal Martino said it was in neither parties interest to carry on fighting and urged both to show more willingness to hold peace talks.

"If they can't come to an agreement, then someone else should do it (for them). The world cannot sit back and watch without doing anything.

"We Christians are not the only ones to call this land 'holy', Jews and Muslims do so too. The fact that this land is the scene of bloodshed seems a great tragedy," he added.

Israel's offensive on Gaza has killed almost 700 Palestinians, including 220 children, and injured 3000 since December 27, according to Gaza medics.

Aid agencies have declared a total humanitarian crisis in Gaza, owing to the ailing stocks of basic food, water and medical supplies.

In response Israel said the comments were "based on Hamas propaganda".

"Making remarks that seem to be based on Hamas propaganda while ignoring its numerous crimes ... does not bring the people closer to truth and peace," foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP.