Spanish minister accuses Israel of a 'planned genocide', EU divided over Israel stance
Spain’s acting Minister for Social Rights Ione Belarra has accused Israel of carrying out a "planned genocide" in Gaza, after thousands of Palestinians, including hundreds of children, were killed in Israel's bombardment of the besieged enclave.
Belarra, the leader of a prominent left-wing party, described the bombing and siege on Gaza's 2 million population as an act of "collective punishment" that could be a considered war crime.
She called on Spanish citizens to take to the streets to demand that Madrid distance itself from the US's unwavering support for Israel and called on the Global South to find a solution to the Israel-Hamas conflict.
"Today we want to raise our voice to denounce that the state of Israel is carrying out a planned genocide in the Gaza Strip, leaving hundreds of thousands without light, food, and water and carrying out bombings on the civilian population that are collective punishment, seriously breach international law and may be considered war crimes,” she said.
Israel gave an order for around 1 million Palestinians to flee northern Gaza for the south of the enclave with food, water, and electricity cut.
The Spanish minister also demanded that humanitarian corridors be opened in Gaza and said the European Union should not act as "an accomplice of a war criminal" allegedly referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Socialist acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez also called on his people to demonstrate against Israel’s military offensive but requested the International Criminal Court investigate both Israel and Hamas's military actions as potential "war crimes".
We ask our partner that, as the Government of Spain, we bring Netanyahu before the International Criminal Court for war crimes. Here is my official statement 👇 pic.twitter.com/Wuu8nnKfVp— Ione Belarra (@ionebelarra) October 16, 2023
Speaking at a demonstration in Mérida on Saturday, Sánchez condemned the Hamas attack and stressed Israel's "right to defend itself" but said international humanitarian law needs to be respected.
Sánchez also stated that his government would increase humanitarian aid to Gaza. This follows the Brussels controversy last week by after EU Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi announced on social media that “all payments” to the Palestinians had been suspended following the Hamas attack.
•All payments immediately suspended.— Oliver Varhelyi (@OliverVarhelyi) October 9, 2023
•All projects put under review.
•All new budget proposals, incl. for 2023 postponed until further notice.
•Comprehensive assessment of the whole portfolio.
Divisions within the EU on how to respond to the Gaza war, which has killed close to 3,000 Palestinians, deepened on Saturday.
EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said that EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen did not speak on behalf on the pan-European body when she voiced support to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for Israel's attack on Gaza during a recent Jerusalem visit.
Borrell made his statement in Beijing a day after Von der Leyen visited Jerusalem. The EU commission president did not publicly comment on Israel’s warning to more than one million people in north Gaza to leave their homes within 24 hours or risk death.