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Spain rejects Israeli claims of its officials aligning with Hamas

Madrid has dismissed Israel’s claims that some members of Spain’s acting coalition government have aligned themselves “with Isis-style terrorism” by criticising Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to Hamas’s atrocities and suggesting Israeli forces are committing genocide and war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

On Saturday, Ione Belarra, who serves as Spain’s social rights minister and is the leader of Podemos, the junior partners in the socialist-led coalition, suggested the Spanish government should bring Netanyahu before the international criminal court to face war crimes charges.

After attending a demonstration in Madrid in support of the Palestinian people the following day, she tweeted: “Dignity has filled the streets of Madrid today to urge the end of the genocide that Israel is planning against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. Freedom for Palestine.”

Belarra’s views were echoed by her Podemos colleague Irene Montero, who is acting equality minister, and by Alberto Garzón, Spain’s acting consumer affairs minister.

“A violent and indiscriminate attack on a civilian population is a collective punishment that clearly violates international law,” said Garzón, who is a member of Podemos’s partners, the United Left alliance. “What the Israeli government is doing is pure cruelty.”

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Although Israel’s embassy in Madrid did not refer to any of the ministers by name, it put out an angry statement on Monday evening, accusing “certain elements” in the Spanish government of aligning with Hamas and of putting Spain’s Jewish communities in danger. It called on the socialist prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, to intervene and condemn his colleagues’ “shameful” comments.

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“It is deeply worrying that certain elements within the Spanish government have chosen to align themselves with this kind of Isis-style terrorism at a time when Israel is mourning the loss of more than 1,300 innocent men, women and children who were brutally murdered, and when more than 150 people – including women, children and elderly people – remain the captives of Hamas terrorists in Gaza,” the embassy said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Monday evening.

“These remarks are not only absolutely immoral, they also endanger the safety of Jewish communities in Spain, exposing them to the risk of a greater number of antisemitic attacks and incidents.”

Spain, which holds the presidency of the EU council, responded with a strongly worded statement that accused the Israeli embassy of “spreading falsehoods” about some cabinet members.

“In a full democracy, such as Spain, any political leader can freely express their positions as the representative of a political party,” the statement from the foreign ministry said.

“In any case, the Spanish government’s position on the terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas is clear: unequivocal condemnation; demands for the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages, and the recognition of Israel to defend itself within the limits set by international law and international humanitarian law.”

Sánchez had repeated the EU’s condemnation of the atrocities earlier on Monday, saying the Middle East was “on fire”.

“Israel has the legitimate right to defend itself within the respect of international and humanitarian law,” he said. “At the same time, protection of civilians is essential, as is access for international aid for those in need, especially in the Gaza Strip.”

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