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Belgium to summon Israel ambassador due to bombing of Gaza office building

February 2, 2024 at 5:20 pm

Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib gives a speech in Brussels, Belgium on December 11, 2023. [Dursun Aydemir – Anadolu Agency]

Belgium’s Foreign Minister, Hadja Lahbib, has stated that the Israeli ambassador will be summoned following the destruction of the office building in Gaza which was housing the Belgian Agency for Development Cooperation (Enabel) due to Israeli airstrikes.

“I have just summoned the Israeli ambassador to express our strong condemnation of the destruction of Enabel offices in Gaza,” she said in a post on X.

“Attacks on civilian infrastructure breach the principles of international humanitarian law. All parties must adhere to it,” she added.

Israel has consistently aimed at residential and civilian structures in its relentless bombardment against Gaza. More than 60 per cent of Gaza’s housing units have now been destroyed or damaged, according to the UN, which says the amount of debris caused by Israel amounts to 8,000,000 metric tons and will take three years to clear.

Jan Van Wetter, the Director of Enabel, also took to X to express his shock at Israel’s destruction of the agency’s offices in Gaza.

He wrote: “Our offices were completely destroyed yesterday in the bombing. We at Enabel are shocked. As a government agency working for the public good within the framework of international humanitarian law, we cannot accept this.”

Alongside his post, he shared two images – one depicting the structure housing the agency’s offices prior to the reported bombing and the other revealing the aftermath.

It comes after Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister, Petra De Sutter, confirmed yesterday that the country will continue to provide assistance to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

READ: Satellite images show 30% of Gaza destroyed, UN centre says

In a statement, she said, “Belgium will continue to fund UNRWA. The Agency is irreplaceable in providing urgent and crucial humanitarian relief within Gaza.” She added that Belgium will closely monitor the UN internal investigation and that UNRWA must provide complete transparency.

Belgian FM, Hadja Lahbib, added in a separate statement, “The recent revelations about UNRWA are serious and worrying. The investigation must be thorough. All the facts must come to light. Belgium will continue to help Palestinian civilians and ensure that humanitarian aid gets to them.”

The war began on 7 October when Hamas fighters rampaged across the border, killing more than 1,200 people in Israel and seizing 240 hostages. Israel’s assault on Gaza started the same day and has killed more than 27,000 people, health authorities in the Hamas-run enclave say.

However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance.

Israel’s genocidal offensive against Gaza has left 85 per cent o the enclave’s population internally displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60 per cent of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

READ: Belgium pledges to $23m of aid to UNRWA after US funding cut