Belgium summons Israeli envoy to protest bombing of development agency in Gaza

Israel says it’s looking into the matter; Brussels says it evacuated staff from building 2 weeks ago but still trying to get them out of enclave

Photos of Belgium's Enabel office in Gaza before and after it was bombed on January 31, 2023. (Jean Van Wetter/X)
Photos of Belgium's Enabel office in Gaza before and after it was bombed on January 31, 2023. (Jean Van Wetter/X)

Belgium summoned the Israeli ambassador on Friday to condemn the bombing of the country’s development agency in Gaza, the Belgian foreign ministry said.

Brussels said the offices of Enabel, the Belgian development agency, had been destroyed in northern Gaza. An official told AFP it took place on Wednesday.

It added that there were no employees in the building at the time of the bombing.

The IDF said it was looking into the claims, while the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem confirmed that the ambassador was summoned and said it was checking the matter.

Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib and Development Cooperation Minister Caroline Gennez spoke to Israeli Ambassador Idit Rosenzweig-Abu in Brussels.

“The ministers strongly condemned the bombing and destruction of the offices,” the ministry said.

“The destruction of civilian infrastructure is absolutely unacceptable and does not comply with international law,” it added.

Idit Rosenzweig-Abu (Courtesy)

Lahbib had shared two images on social media on Thursday, one of an apartment building with a timestamp suggesting the photo had been taken on January 28, 2024.

The second image showed rubble from a destroyed building but there was no information about when it was taken.

The Belgian foreign ministry said the government had evacuated the agency’s staff and immediate family members two weeks ago.

“We very much hope that these people – including many children – will be able to leave Gaza quickly and unharmed,” it added.

Belgium has called for an immediate ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza.

It will also raise the issue of compensation for the damaged infrastructure of projects financed by the European Union and member states with its EU partners.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimated that by late November, 37,379 buildings — the equivalent of 18 percent of the Gaza Strip’s total structures — had been damaged or destroyed in Israel’s military offensive.

Women and children are pictured along an alley between tents at a make-shift camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on January 29, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. (Photo by AFP)

Rami Alazzeh, an UNCTAD economist focused on assistance to the Palestinian people, said last month: “New data says that 50 percent of the structures in Gaza are [damaged or] destroyed.”

War erupted between Israel and Hamas with the terror group’s October 7 massacre, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing over 240 hostages of all ages – mostly civilians.

Vowing to destroy the terror group, Israel launched a wide-scale military campaign in Gaza.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says that some 27,000 people in the Strip have been killed in the fighting so far, a figure that cannot be independently verified and is believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires. The IDF says it has killed some 10,000 Hamas terrorists in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 gunmen inside Israel on October 7.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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