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Israel summons Belgian envoy after minister says Palestinian towns being ‘wiped off map’

Israeli forces demolish Palestinian house in al-Khalil, West Bank on October 25, 2022. (Photo by Anadolu)

Israel has summoned Belgium’s ambassador after a Belgian minister said the whole Palestinian villages are being “wiped off the map” due to the occupying regime’s demolition of Palestinian homes.

In an interview with Flemish daily De Morgen published earlier this week, Belgium’s Minister for International Development, Caroline Gennez, noted that Palestinian communities are being obliterated by the settlers.

“In the occupied Palestinian territories, for example, the situation is becoming unsustainable. Entire villages are being wiped off the map by the Israelis,” she said.

“The periods of escalating violence are shorter than before, but more frequent and more intense. As a result, the population no longer has room to catch its breath,” Gennez noted in the interview.

Israel’s Ambassador to Belgium, Idit Rosenzweig-Abu, later announced via X (Twitter) that her Belgian counterpart “was summoned to the Foreign Ministry for reprimand and required to provide explanations.”

Rosenzweig-Abu also sent a protest letter to the Belgian Foreign Ministry and to Gennez over the comments.

Gennez’s remarks were apparently a response to the escalation of Israeli violence against Palestinians, especially by illegal extremist settlers in the West Bank.

A recent Associated Press report revealed that three Bedouin hamlets in Area C of the West Bank, which constitutes about 61 percent of the territory and is under full Israeli military control, had been cleared out, due to what former residents said was a year of intensified attacks and harassment by armed settlers living in unauthorized outposts on neighboring hilltops.

Homes are also being seized in al-Quds and other places, while Muslim graves and other places of importance are being destroyed, according to rights groups.

In a recent report for the news and opinion webzine +972 Magazine, photojournalist Oren Ziv documented Israel’s cleansing of the vast West Bank region of nearly all Palestinians.

Ziv found that large areas between the cities of Ramallah and Ariha have been emptied of nearly all Palestinian residents following intensifying violence and land seizures by Israeli settlers, backed by the incumbent far-led administration led by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Palestine lauds Belgian minister

Meanwhile, the Palestinian foreign ministry said in a statement that Gennez’s comments are fully consistent with international law and resolutions of international legitimacy, and support the principles of human rights.

The ministry condemned the vile and unjustified Israeli attack on the Belgian minister and her statements, stressing that such assaults are part of the misleading propaganda and intimidation of those who criticize the occupying Tel Aviv regime.

It is also an attempt to obscure the reality of what Palestinian people are exposed to, the statement added.

Over 700,000 Israelis live in over 280 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

The international community views the settlements – hundreds of which have been built across the West Bank since Tel Aviv’s occupation of the territory in 1967 – as illegal under international law and the Geneva Conventions due to their construction on the occupied territories.

The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.

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