VATICAN CITY/JERUSALEM, JULY 26, 2005 ( Israel sharply criticized Benedict XVI for "deliberately" failing to condemn terrorist attacks against Jews in an address that expressed sympathy for bombings in other nations.

Israel's Foreign Ministry summoned on Monday the apostolic nuncio to Israel, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, to ask why the Holy Father omitted the July 12 terrorist attack in Netanya, which killed five people, in his Sunday's Angelus address in which he condemned bombings in other countries.

After praying the Angelus on Sunday from Les Combes, in the Italian Alps, where the Pope is on vacation, Benedict XVI added at the end of his address that "these days of peace and rest have also been disturbed by the tragic news" of terrorist attacks "in several countries, such as Egypt, Turkey, Iraq and Great Britain."

The ministry published a statement after meeting with the apostolic delegate which expressed its "extreme dismay at the conspicuous absence of Israel in the list of countries hit by recent terrorist attacks" cited in the address.

The statement continued: "The terrorism that strikes Jews in Israel -- including the attack last week that resulted in the murder and wounding of many teenagers and children -- is almost always immediately condemned by leaders of the free world.

"The Vatican's failure to condemn the latest attack cries to the heavens … it can possibly be interpreted as, in effect, giving a stamp of approval to acts of terrorism committed against Jews."

Word twisting

Joaquín Navarro Valls, Vatican spokesman, answered the accusations Monday with a statement that expressed surprise that the "Holy Father's intention should have been thus groundlessly misinterpreted."

He added: "it should be noted that Benedict XVI's words specifically referred to the attacks of 'these days.'"

It should be "well known," continued the statement, that the Pope condemns "all forms of terrorism, from whatever side it comes, and against whomever it is directed."

"Obviously, the serious attack in Netanya two weeks ago, to which the Israeli comments refer, also falls under the general and unreserved condemnation of terrorism," said the statement.