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Nobel Prize Recipient Accuses Israel of Genocide at Engagement in the Vatican

 Israel’s embassy to the Holy See issued a protest on Monday, after a Yemeni Nobel Prize winner accused Israel of “genocide” in Gaza, during an event hosted by the Vatican.

The embassy said it felt “indignation and shock” over the comments rights activist Tawakkul Karman made on Saturday evening at a conference organized by the Fratelli Tutti Foundation created by Pope Francis.

Karman, who won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for her role in the Arab Spring protests, told an audience in the atrium of St. Peter’s Basilica: “The world is silent in front of the genocide and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people in Gaza.”

In an open letter posted on X on Monday, the Israeli embassy rejected Karman’s accusations as “lies.”

“The site was contaminated by a flagrantly antisemitic speech,” the letter read.

“We regret that such a speech was pronounced without anyone feeling the moral duty to intervene to stop this disgrace,” it added.

After mentioning Gaza, Karman got a loud round of applause from the audience which was made up of fellow Nobel prize laureates, politicians, and church officials. The pope himself was not present.

Relations between the Vatican and Israel have grown increasingly tense since the start of the war in Gaza, with Jewish groups accusing Pope Francis of failing to describe the Israeli invasion of the Palestinian enclave as an act of self-defense after the October 7 Hamas attacks, in which terrorists murdered some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapped 252.

In March, the Israeli embassy to the Holy See criticized Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin after he accused Israel’s military of causing “carnage” in Gaza.

The embassy initially denounced his comment as “deplorable,” but subsequently said this was a translation error and that it had meant to say “regrettable.”

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza claims that Israel has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians in the war, a number that cannot be independently verified and is believed to include both Hamas terrorists and civilians, some of whom were killed as a consequence of the terror group’s own rocket misfires.

The IDF says it has killed over 15,000 terrorists in Gaza, in addition to some 1,000 who were killed inside Israel on and immediately following October 7.

The army has lost 620 soldiers since October 7, 272 of whom were killed during the ground invasion in Gaza.