Politics, Middle East, Europe

Spain’s top diplomat says Rafah incursion puts 1.4M Palestinians at ‘unacceptable risk’

Jose Manuel Albares warns Israel's military operation will have ‘grave consequences’ for regional stability

Alyssa Mcmurtry  | 08.05.2024 - Update : 08.05.2024
Spain’s top diplomat says Rafah incursion puts 1.4M Palestinians at ‘unacceptable risk’

OVIEDO, Spain 

Spain’s foreign minister on Wednesday warned about the “unacceptable risk” of Israeli’s Rafah military operation, saying it threatens civilian lives and regional stability.

“The military operation in Rafah puts 1.4 million Palestinian civilians at unacceptable risk and has serious consequences for regional stability,” Jose Manuel Albares posted on X.

Albares, who will meet with his US counterpart Antony Blinken on Friday to discuss the situation, also called for an “urgent cease-fire, the release of hostages and the unencumbered entry of humanitarian aid now.”

Since Israel began its military incursion in one of the last spots of refuge for citizens of Gaza, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez also said it will only “increase the suffering that the Palestinian people are already dealing with.”

Sanchez also urged more international action to stop the violence. Along with his Irish counterpart, he said Spain plans to recognize Palestinian statehood shortly.

However, members of his Cabinet are calling for more urgent action.

On Tuesday, Youth Minister Sira Rego called for Spain to sanction the Benjamin Netanyahu government, which she accused of committing genocide against the Palestinians.

On Tuesday, Israeli forces seized control of the Rafah border crossing linking Gaza with Egypt, closing it to all traffic, severing access to fuel and the movement of humanitarian aid and staff to and from Gaza, according to the UN.

As Spain’s Vice Prime Minister Yolanda Diaz pointed out in an op-ed this week, Israeli forces have killed 16 out of every 1,000 Gazan citizens and injured 36 of every 1,000.

Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip in retaliation for an Oct. 7 attack by Hamas which killed about 1,200 people. Nearly 34,800 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza, mostly women and children, and 78,100 others injured, according to Palestinian health authorities.

Seven months into the Israeli war, vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins, pushing 85% of the enclave’s population into internal displacement amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water, and medicine, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January said it is "plausible" that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza and ordered Tel Aviv to stop such acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

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