(JTA) — Israel reprimanded Spain and Belgium’s ambassadors in Tel Aviv after their country’s prime ministers called Israel’s actions in Gaza “unacceptable” on Friday.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo made their comments at a press conference at the Rafah border crossing in Egypt, which has been the corridor that Hamas’ Israeli hostages have been delivered through and that humanitarian aid has arrived in since Oct. 7. Their press conference took place just a short time before the first set of Israeli hostages were due to make their way through the crossing as part of a ceasefire deal.
Sánchez, who is facing pressure from left-wing parties as he has struggled since July elections to form a government coalition, said Israel’s “indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians, including thousands of children, is completely unacceptable.” He also said Spain is open to recognizing a Palestinian state, even “if the European Union does not.”
De Croo, who has been a member of the conservative Open VLD party, said Israel’s offensive in Gaza in response to Hamas’ attack on Oct. 7 has not followed “international humanitarian law.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the two, saying in a statement that they “did not place total responsibility on Hamas for the crimes against humanity it perpetrated: massacring Israeli citizens and using Palestinians as human shields.” Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said their statements were in “support of terrorism.”
Both Sánchez and De Croo had condemned Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks, but in the nearly two months since have focused more on calling for a ceasefire in the ongoing war in Gaza. Israel views a ceasefire as unacceptable because it would leave Hamas in power, though it agreed to a short truce to allow for the release of more than 50 hostages, mostly women and children.
After Spain’s ambassador was summoned for a reprimand, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares summoned Israel’s ambassador to Spain, AFP reported.