Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and denounced the “indiscriminate killing of Palestinians” by Israel, in his strongest criticism of the Israeli offensive since it began over a month ago.
Sánchez made the remarks during a parliamentary debate on Wednesday, ahead of a confidence vote in which he is expected to secure another term in office with the support of the far-left Podemos party, which has been vocal in its condemnation of Israel.
“We demand an immediate ceasefire on the part of Israel in Gaza and strict compliance with international humanitarian law, which today is clearly not respected,” Sánchez said. “Let there be no doubt, we stand with Israel in rejecting its response to the terrorist attack that this country suffered in October. But with the same clarity we reject the indiscriminate killing of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.”
Sánchez was referring to the unprecedented attack by the Palestinian militant group Hamas on October 7, which killed more than 1,200 Israelis and took hundreds of hostages. Israel launched a massive bombardment of Gaza in response, aiming to crush Hamas and free the captives. According to local health officials, more than 15000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Gaza since the conflict started.
Spain has maintained that Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas but has also expressed concern over the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the rising death toll among civilians. Spain is among the Western nations trying to evacuate some of its citizens from Gaza, as well as provide humanitarian aid to the besieged enclave.
The conflict has also sparked protests and solidarity rallies around the world, with many people expressing their support for the Palestinian cause and denouncing Israel’s actions as war crimes and genocide. In Spain, thousands of people have taken to the streets in several cities, waving Palestinian flags and chanting slogans against Israel. Some of the demonstrations have turned violent, with clashes between protesters and police, as well as attacks on synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses.
The leader of Podemos, Ione Belarra, who is also the minister for social rights, has been among the most outspoken critics of Israel in the Spanish government. She has called on the international community to sanction Israel and break diplomatic ties with the country, accusing it of a “planned genocide” of Palestinians in Gaza.
“We need much more than words in an investiture debate to halt the planned genocide that Israel in carrying out in Palestine,” Belarra wrote on X, formerly called Twitter, on Wednesday. “There is a deafening silence of so many countries and so many political leaders who could do something. I speak about what I know well, which is the European Union. It seems the display of hypocrisy, which the European Commission is showing, is unacceptable.”