People in Barcelona march with a banner reading "let's stop the genocide in Palestine."

Protesters in Barcelona march with a banner reading, "Let's stop the genocide in Palestine," on November 11, 2023.

(Photo: Marc Asensio/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Barcelona City Council Suspends Ties With Israel Over Gaza Slaughter

"It's not a war, it's a genocide," said Councilmember Ada Colau. "We not only need to denounce it, we must act and not stay on the sidelines."

The city council of Barcelona, Spain's second-largest city, voted Friday to suspend relations with Israel's far-right government over what the party behind the move called the "genocide" in Gaza.

Introduced by the leftist Barcelona en Comú party—which asserted that "no government can turn a blind eye to a genocide"—the resolution demands the municipal government discontinue "institutional relations with the current government of Israel until there is a definitive cease-fire, and respect for the basic rights of the Palestinian people and compliance with United Nations resolutions are guaranteed."

The resolution also calls for requiring public contracts to ensure that "no operator belongs to or carries out" activities "that go against international humanitarian law" and "rejects and condemns attacks against the population civilian, both Israeli and Palestinian, as well as any action constituting collective punishment, such as the forced displacement of population, the systematic destruction of homes and civilian infrastructure, or the blocking of the supply of energy, water, food, medical supplies and medicines to the population of the Gaza Strip."

Barcelona en Comú Councilmember Ada Colau said in a statement that "it's not a war, it's a genocide, and as [Spanish] President Pedro Sánchez has stated, it is unbearable, and if it is unbearable, we not only need to denounce it, we must act and not stay on the sidelines."

"Every 10 minutes, a child dies in the Gaza Strip under the bombs of one of the most powerful armies in the world," she added.

Colau, whose eight-year tenure as Barcelona's mayor ended in June, earlier this year announced her city was cutting ties with Israel and ending its symbolic 25-year-old "twin cities" relationship with Tel Aviv due to the Israeli government's "crime of apartheid against the Palestinian people."

Barcelona's current mayor, Jaume Collboni of the Socialists' Party of Catalonia, reversed Colau's move in September.

Earlier this month, Barcelona dockworkers also showed solidarity with Palestinians by refusing to load or unload military materials onto any ship bound for Israel or any conflict zone where they could be used against civilians.

The new Barcelona resolution urges Israel and Hamas to make permanent the temporary four-day ceasefire that began Friday morning, as well as an end to Israeli violence against Palestinian civilians in the illegally occupied West Bank and the unconditional and safe release of all hostages taken by Hamas.

On Friday, Hamas freed 24 captives—13 Israeli women and children, 10 Thai nationals, and one Filipino—as part of the cease-fire agreement. Israel released 39 Palestinian women and minors from behind bars to fulfill its end of the deal. Hamas has agreed to free 50 of its hostages in exchange for the release of 150 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

Israeli forces have arrested thousands of Palestinians on what critics claim are often dubious grounds meant to give Israel leverage and bargaining chips.

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, nearly 15,000 Palestinians, including more than 4,000 women and over 6,000 children, have been killed by Israeli bombs and bullets since the Hamas-led attacks on southern Israel that left around 1,200 people dead and 240 others kidnapped. The international humanitarian group Oxfam said Thursday that newborn babies are dying from preventable causes in Gaza's hospitals due to the Israeli siege.

More than 36,000 Palestinians have been wounded by Israeli attacks on Gaza, while around 7,000 others—including over 4,700 children—are missing and presumed dead. More than 1.7 million Gazans have been forcibly displaced and around half the homes in the besieged strip have been damaged or destroyed, according to United Nations agencies.

At least 255 Palestinians have also been killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

In addition to the Barcelona councilmembers who voted Friday for the resolution, other Spanish officials have also called for cutting ties with Israel's government over its Gaza onslaught.

Last month, outgoing Social Rights Minister Ione Belarra, who also leads the leftist Podemos party, urged her country's coalition government to petition the International Criminal Court to open a war crimes investigation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for Israel's indiscriminate bombardment of Gaza and for cutting off food, fuel, and electricity from the besieged strip's 2.3 million residents.

On Thursday, Belarra criticized Sánchez—a member of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party—for visiting Israel this week, arguing that his trip "only serves to whitewash Netanyahu and to equate the state of Israel, an occupying power that perpetrates a genocide, with the victims of the Palestinian people."

"Such inaction," she added, "is absolutely unbearable."

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