MADRID: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Sunday 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 between Gaza and Egypt on Friday with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, Sanchez 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.”
The Israeli Foreign Ministry swiftly summoned the ambassadors of Spain and Belgium for a “harsh rebuke” over comments by the two countries’ leaders, accusing them of supporting “terrorism.”
“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 ideology; it is a question of being humane,” Sanchez told a gathering of his Socialist party in Madrid to applause from the audience.
Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares told public television on Friday he had called in the Israeli ambassador to lodge a formal protest against the Israeli government’s allegations.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he “strongly” condemned the comments by the European leaders.
A statement released by his office blamed them for not placing “total responsibility on Hamas for the crimes against humanity it perpetrated: massacring Israeli citizens and using Palestinians as human shields.”