Belgium 'must now put Israel sanctions on EU agenda' as 100 die in Gaza aid convoy attack

Belgium’s French-speaking socialists have demanded that prime minister Alexander De Croo put sanctions against Israel on the European agenda. Their demand comes after more than 100 Palestinian people were killed as crowds gathered for an aid delivery in northern Gaza. The total number of Palestinians killed in the conflict has now surpassed 30,000, the Hamas-run Health ministry reports.

“There has been enough talk, now we need results,” said PS party leader Ahmed Laaouej during question time in the Chamber. He said a “genocidal process” was under way in the Gaza Strip and the Belgian government – of which his party is part – must “finally take responsibility”. He wants De Croo to put a sanctions package on the table while Belgium holds the EU’s rotating presidency. 

Nabil Boukili of the far-left PVDA added: “I would have liked to have heard the same determination from you as for Ukraine. You disapprove of Israel’s actions, but we want to see action, and therefore sanctions. You are not taking responsibility. The world watches, and we do nothing while a genocide takes place.”

Meanwhile, the death toll following an Israeli attack on Palestinians who had gathered to receive aid supplies in Gaza has risen to 104. This was reported by the Palestinian Health ministry, which is controlled by Hamas. A further 760 people were injured. The total number of people killed in Gaza since 7 October has now reached more than 30,000.

According to the Israeli army, soldiers opened fire because they believed they were in danger. An Israel Defense Forces statement denies responsibility for the high number of deaths, which it attributes to trampling by the crowd and being run over by lorries. 

'Situation is unacceptable'

Petra De Sutter, deputy prime minister and an MP for Flemish green party Groen, said on X that she was “horrified by the news of today’s massacre on over 100 Palestinian citizens. Murdering people queueing for essential humanitarian aid? This is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and fully goes against the ICJ’s provisional measures.”

Nothing has changed about the Belgian position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, De Croo said. “Belgium has taken a very clear position since the beginning: Israel has the right to defend itself, but the situation in Gaza is unacceptable. We call for an immediate and unconditional cessation of all violence.” He added that Belgium was trying to convince other European countries of that position.

Image grab from a handout video released by the Israeli army of crowds gathering to receive food aid in Gaza © ALINE MANOUKIAN / ISRAELI ARMY / AFP
Image grab from a handout video released by the Israeli army of crowds gathering to receive food aid in Gaza © ALINE MANOUKIAN / ISRAELI ARMY / AFP

The core cabinet will discuss on Friday whether additional humanitarian measures can be taken, De Croo said, in particular a proposal by Defence minister Ludivine Dedonder of PS for a Belgian transport plane to drop relief supplies over Gaza. “We would not understand if that proposal was not supported by the full government,” Laaouej said.

The UN estimates that 2.2 million Gazans, virtually the entire population of the Gaza Strip, are at risk of starvation. According to UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, some 2,300 trucks carrying aid arrived in the Gaza Strip in February, a decrease by half compared to the previous month. Before the outbreak of war with Israel, around 500 trucks arrived daily.


PVDA/PTB MP Nabil Boukili and prime minister Alexander De Croo during a plenary session of the Chamber at the Federal Parliament in Brussels, 29 February 2024 © BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND / BELGA VIDEO MAARTEN WEYNANTS

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