Criticism over Israeli ambassador's Dutroux comparison
Israel’s ambassador to Belgium has been criticised for a tweet that compared released Palestinian prisoners in Israel to the child killer and rapist Marc Dutroux.
Idit Rosenzweig-Abu posted a montage on Wednesday from newspaper De Morgen featuring photos of released Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners with the caption: “Israeli or Palestinian, it’s always someone’s father or child.” She added the comment: “I got one thing to say – Marc Dutroux was also someone’s child. Doesn’t mean it ok to compare him with his victims.”
Following outrage from politicians and members of the public, she deleted the post and said she “did not mean in any way to disrespect the victims of Dutroux”. She then reposted it, replacing Dutroux with Salah Abdeslam, who was convicted for his involvement in the 2016 Brussels terrorist attacks, and adding “but the point stands”.
Wouter De Vriendt of Flemish green party Groen said: “The child abuse and horror committed by Marc Dutroux is a national trauma in Belgium. With everlasting scars and pain for the families involved. I want to be very clear: a foreign ambassador who does not understand that is out of place here.”
“Moderation, restraint and empathy are what we need more than ever in order to end the violence in Gaza,” said Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib. “It is everyone’s responsibility to contribute to that.” Her cabinet has reportedly contacted Rosenzweig-Abu about the matter.
Justice minister Paul Van Tigchelt also responded. “Only when Palestinians and Israelis dare to face the terrible human tragedies in both camps will there be hope for peace,” he said. “We do not accept such comparisons, not even from diplomats and ambassadors.”
"Moderation, restraint and empathy are what we need more than ever in order to end the violence in Gaza"
Since Friday, a total of 180 Palestinians – mostly women and teenage boys – have been released from Israeli jails as part of the temporary ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Islamist Hamas group. They had been accused of a range of offences, from throwing stones and incitement to attempted murder. The BBC reports that fewer than a quarter had been convicted, with the majority on remand awaiting trial.
Three Palestinian prisoners are being freed in exchange for each hostage released from Gaza, where they have been held since being kidnapped at the outbreak of war on 7 October. So far, 81 hostages have been freed. As part of the deal, Israel has allowed humanitarian aid into Gaza.
Dutroux, from Charleroi, was jailed for life in 2004 for kidnapping and raping six girls and murdering four of them, as well as a series of other rapes in Belgium, France and Slovakia. The case caused outrage, over both the nature of his crimes and failures in the police investigation.
Ambassador Idit Rosenzweig-Abu (left) with Regina Sluszny, president of the Forum der Joodse Organisaties, at a gathering at the Israeli embassy in Brussels on 10 October © BELGA PHOTO BENOIT DOPPAGNE