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16 Oct, 2023 22:04

Spanish minister denounces Israeli ‘genocide’ in Gaza

PM Netanyahu should be prosecuted for war crimes, the leader of the Podemos party has said
Spanish minister denounces Israeli ‘genocide’ in Gaza

Both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas terrorists need to be tried by the International Criminal Court (ICC), Spanish Minister for Social Rights Ione Belarra said on Monday.

“Israel is carrying out a planned genocide” in Gaza by leaving hundreds of thousands of Palestinians without water, food, and electricity, Belarra, who is the leader of Podemos, a junior partner in the ruling coalition, claimed. She further described the move as a serious breach of international law and a possible war crime.

Belarra also accused Israel of “unspeakable hypocrisy” for what she described as using the horrific murders of civilians by Hamas to justify its own atrocities, both in general and against Gaza in particular.

In a five-minute video message broadcast on social media, Belarra accused Netanyahu’s government of “apartheid and occupation” of the Palestinians, encouraged and enabled by the US and the EU.

Speaking on behalf of her party, Belarra demanded the immediate opening of a humanitarian corridor, by which civilians could leave Gaza to safety, while aid and rescue crews access the area to deal with the consequences of Israeli bombing.

Podemos will formally request its coalition partner, PM Pedro Sanchez’s Socialist Party, to petition the ICC to investigate both Hamas and Netanyahu for war crimes, she added.

Belarra also demanded the EU stop “enabling” Netanyahu and pressure Israel into stopping the bombing of Gaza through an arms embargo, targeted sanctions, or other means. The bloc needs to use all diplomatic means to address the root cause of the conflict, which she described as “Israel’s occupation and apartheid of Palestine.” 

The Spanish politician urged the EU to stop “blindly following” the US, which she accused of responding to the “loss of its hegemony” with belligerence, both in Israel and in Ukraine. Neither is a conflict the EU should be involved in, Belarra argued. 

On behalf of Podemos, Belarra called on the citizens of Spain and other EU countries to “mobilize and organize in the streets” to end the blockade of Gaza. She condemned the bans in several countries on pro-Palestinian demonstrations as a crackdown on free speech and human rights under the pressure of the “far-right government of Israel” and its backers in Washington.

Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israeli military bases and villages near Gaza on October 7, killing over 1,300 Israelis. Netanyahu’s government has declared “war” on the Palestinian group and vowed to “dismantle” it.

Belarra has been the minister for social rights since March 2021. Podemos has five seats in the 350-member Congress of Deputies, but is part of the Sumar coalition that is the junior partner of Sanchez’s Socialists. The Sanchez cabinet is currently in a caretaker capacity, since the July elections resulted in a hung parliament, with no coalition able to establish a majority.