25th February 2024
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‘A question of being humane’ – Sánchez stands by Gaza comments that angered Israel

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Sunday again defended comments he made about the Israeli offensive in Gaza which angered Israel, saying ‘it was a question of being humane’.

Visiting the Rafah border crossing (main image) between Gaza and Egypt on Friday with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, Sánchez had said the ‘indiscriminate killings of innocent civilians’ in the Palestinian territory was ‘completely unacceptable’.

Both leaders called for a permanent ceasefire in the war-battered territory, with the Belgian premier also denouncing the destruction in the Gaza Strip as ‘unacceptable’.

Speaking at a joint press conference on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing on Friday, Sánchez had said the time had come for the international community and the European Union to once and for all recognise a Palestinian state. He said it would be better if the EU did it together, ‘but if this is not the case … Spain will take their own decisions’.

Sánchez also reiterated comments made on Thursday to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the killing of civilians. ALSO READ: Sánchez calls for international peace conference and to establish ‘viable Palestinian state’.

‘I also reiterate Israel’s right to defend itself but it must do so within the parameters and limits imposed by international humanitarian law and this is not the case,’ Sánchez said. ‘The indiscriminate killing of civilians, including thousands of boys and girls, are completely unacceptable.’

De Croo did not comment on recognition of a Palestinian state, but said, ‘first things first, let’s stop the violence. Let’s liberate the hostages. Let’s get the aid inside … the first priority is help people who are suffering.’

De Croo stressed the need and hope for a permanent cease-fire, adding that this ‘needs to be built together. And it can only be built together if both parties understand that the solution to this conflict is never going to be violence. A solution to this conflict is that people sit around the table’.

Israel later lashed out at the two prime ministers ‘for not placing full responsibility for the crimes against humanity committed by Hamas, who massacred our citizens and used the Palestinians as human shields’.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen instructed the countries’ ambassadors to be summoned for a sharp reprimand. ‘We condemn the false claims of the prime ministers of Spain and Belgium who give support to terrorism,’ Cohen said.

‘Israel is acting according to international law and fighting a murderous terrorist organisation worse than (the Islamic State group) that commits war crimes and crimes against humanity,’ he said.

Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares responded to the summon of Spain’s ambassador late on Friday.

‘The Israeli government’s accusations … are totally false and unacceptable,’ he said in a statement. ‘We categorically reject them.’

Albares said the Spanish prime minister has publicly and repeatedly defended Israel’s right to self-defence and that his tour in the region this week was seeking ‘a path to peace’.

On Sunday, at a gathering of his PSOE socialist party in Madrid, Sánchez said to applause from the audience: ‘Condemning the vile terrorist attacks of a terrorist group like Hamas and at the same condemning the indiscriminate killing of Palestinians in Gaza, is not a question of political parties nor of ideology, it is a question of being humane’.

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