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Pro-Palestine stance by prime ministers of Spain, Belgium irk Israel

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (L) and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo hold a joint press conference on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing on November 24, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

Israel has expressed anger with remarks by the prime ministers of Spain and Belgium, who demanded the regime stop its massacre of civilians holed up in the besieged Gaza Strip.

On Friday, Pedro Sanchez and his Belgian counterpart Alexander De Croo held a joint press conference at the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing into Gaza. The two condemned the “indiscriminate” Israeli strikes on the Palestinians.

Sanchez said the situation in Gaza was “the worst humanitarian disaster in modern times.”

“What is happening is a disaster, and we have dealt with it effectively, managing to stop the firing, leading to the arrival of aid.”

The Spanish prime minister said the current ceasefire in Gaza is not enough and a permanent ceasefire was needed. Sanchez also said he would place high on his administration’s agenda the official recognition of Palestine as an independent states.

“We may decide to recognize the state of Palestine if the European Union does not.”

The Spanish prime minister urged the international community to officially recognize the state of Palestine.

His Belgian counterpart made similar remarks, calling for a permanents ceasefire.

The duo visited Rafah after meeting earlier with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

A four-day Qatari-mediated truce, beginning on Friday, would see the exchange of prisoners and the delivery of relief aid into the Gaza Strip.

The two sides agreed on the temporary truce alongside the planned release of 50 Israeli hostages held by Palestinian resistance groups in exchange for 150 Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails.

Meanwhile, Israel summoned the Spanish and Belgian ambassadors in Tel Aviv in protest to the recent remarks by the two prime ministers.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen has said, “We will resume fighting after the ceasefire until the elimination of Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip and the release of all the abductees.”

Under the terms of the truce, for every Israeli captive released, there will be three Palestinian prisoners released, namely women and children. Two-hundred aid trucks that include medical supplies for the entire Gaza Strip will also be allowed in during the four-day ceasefire.

Israel ignited its bloody war machine after the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas launched Operation Al-Aqsa Storm inside the occupied territories on October 7. The regime has killed at least 14,854 people, including more than 6,150 children and 4,000 women, in Gaza.

Despite the ceasefire, there were reports of “intense shooting” by Israeli forces east of Khan Younis and the Rafah crossing.

Two Palestinians were killed and another was wounded when Israeli forces started shooting at hundreds of people who were trying to return to the besieged Gaza Strip, Al-Jazeera reported on Friday. Some of those wounded have been evacuated to a hospital in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza, according to Palestinian news agency Wafa. 

Israel also warned Palestinians that the “war is not over,” telling them not to try to return to homes in the northern part of Gaza, which it described as a “dangerous war zone.”

Gaza residents said the Israelis had dropped leaflets warning people not to travel north and have fired over the heads of some people who were trying to get back into Gaza City.

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