update deskIsrael at War

Jerusalem summons Spanish envoy over PM’s ‘shameful comments’

Madrid questions Israel's compliance with international law in prosecution of the war against Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets in Jerusalem with his Belgian and Spanish counterparts, Alexander De Croo (left) and Pedro Sánchez, Nov. 23, 2023. Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets in Jerusalem with his Belgian and Spanish counterparts, Alexander De Croo (left) and Pedro Sánchez, Nov. 23, 2023. Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO.

Jerusalem summoned on Thursday the Spanish ambassador following “shameful comments” by the prime minister questioning the legality of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

“The footage we are seeing and the growing numbers of children dying, I have serious doubt [Israel] is complying with international humanitarian law,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez told Spanish state-owned broadcaster TVE on Thursday, according to a translation by Reuters. “What we are seeing in Gaza is not acceptable.”

The office of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement saying that he instructed Foreign Minister Eli Cohen to summon Ambassador Ana María Salomón Pérez for a reprimand “following the shameful comments by the Spanish Prime Minister on the day that Hamas terrorists murdered Israelis in our capital Jerusalem.”

Four Israelis were killed and five other people were wounded on Thursday morning in a terror shooting on Weizman Boulevard at the main entrance to Jerusalem that was later claimed by Hamas.

It was the second time in the past two weeks that Jerusalem has summoned the Spanish ambassador for a dressing down.

On Nov. 24, Israel said that it was summoning the ambassadors of Spain and Belgium following a press conference the two country’s prime ministers held outside of Egypt’s Rafah Crossing to Gaza ahead of the first batch of Israeli hostages released by Hamas as part of a ceasefire agreement.

Sánchez called for the European Union to recognize a Palestinian state, saying that Madrid might do so. Spain holds the E.U. rotational presidency, with Belgium taking over in January.

Sánchez also accused Israel of “the indiscriminate killing of civilians, including thousands of boys and girls” in Gaza, saying it is “completely unacceptable.”

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo called for a “permanent ceasefire.”

The two European leaders were hosted by Netanyahu the previous day in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu showed them clips of the horrific footage from Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre of 1,200 people in Israel and told them that Hamas is a “genocidal” enemy that must be eradicated.

“We face a peculiar kind of enemy, a particularly cruel and inhuman foe. They’re genocidal. They’re not fighting for this or that territory; they’re fighting to eliminate the Jewish state in whatever boundary,” said the Israeli premier.

Cohen on Sunday summoned Irish Ambassador Sonya McGuinness to Jerusalem for a dressing down following “the outrageous words” of the country’s prime minister.

Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar drew criticism from Israeli leaders for calling one of the hostages released by Hamas on the night of Nov. 25 “an innocent child who was lost and has now been found.”

Emily Hand, 8, was one of 13 women and children freed by the terrorist group in the Gaza Strip as part of a four-day ceasefire agreement. Her father, Tom, is a 64-year-old Irish immigrant.

Varadkar did not mention in his tweet that Hand was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists and her release was conditioned upon Israel having to free three Palestinian terrorists.

“Mr. Prime Minister, Emily Hand is not lost, maybe you have lost your moral compass and your connection to reality,” Cohen wrote on X.

“Emily Hand was kidnapped by a terrorist organization worse than ISIS after her stepmother was murdered. Emily and over 30 other Israeli children were kidnapped by Hamas, and you are trying to legitimize it. Shame on you!”

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