Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Petra De Sutter speaks, wearing a pink blazer and white blouse.

Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Petra De Sutter speaks during EuroPride in Malta on September 16, 2023.

(Photo: European Greens/Wikimedia Commons)

'The Rain of Bombs Is Inhumane': Belgian Deputy PM Calls For Sanctions on Israel

"While war crimes are being committed in Gaza, Israel is ignoring international demands for a cease-fire," said Petra De Sutter.

As most Western leaders stand staunchly with Israel as it wages what many experts have described as a genocidal war on Gaza, a top Cabinet member of a NATO nation on Wednesday implored her government to sanction Israel and call for the International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes committed by Israeli forces and Hamas.

"It's time for sanctions against Israel," Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Petra De Sutter, a member of the center-left Groen (Green) party, said on social media.

"The rain of bombs is inhumane," she continued. "While war crimes are being committed in Gaza, Israel is ignoring international demands for a cease-fire."

"I am calling on the federal government to sanction Israel," De Sutter declared. "How? The International Criminal Court must be able to expand and strengthen the ongoing investigation into war crimes. There must be an investigation into the bombing of hospitals and refugee camps."

"This is war violence that is never, ever acceptable," she stressed. "Belgium must not support this violation of international law."

"There must be an import ban on products in our supermarkets that come from illegal settlements," De Sutter argued. "In addition, Israel's Association Agreement with Europe must be immediately suspended. There can be no business as usual."

"I also continue to reiterate that Hamas must release the hostages. And we must dry up the flow of money to this terrorist organization."

"Human rights are for everyone. The Palestinians are in a state of total hopelessness," she said. "That is why a political solution is required in which Palestine is recognized as a state and the initial pre-1967 borders are respected."

"I also continue to reiterate that Hamas must release the hostages," De Sutter added, referring to around 240 people kidnapped from Israel. "And we must dry up the flow of money to this terrorist organization."

On Wednesday, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said that "the collective punishment by Israel of Palestinian civilians amounts... to a war crime, as does the unlawful forcible evacuation of civilians."

While eight nations—Bahrain, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Jordan, South Africa, and Turkey—have recalled their ambassadors from Israel and Bolivia has completely severed diplomatic ties, no European country has taken such steps, and very few European leaders have gone as far as De Sutter in calling for punitive measures.

Last month, Spanish 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 into 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.

"The Israeli state must end this planned genocide against the Palestine people," Belarra told Al Jazeera on Wednesday.

"Why can we give lessons in human rights in other conflicts and not here when the world is watching in horror?" she asked, lamenting the "deaths of thousands of children [and] the mothers desperately shouting because they are witnessing the killing of their children."

Belarra also said Hamas must be held accountable for leading attacks in southern Israel that left more than 1,400 people, most of them civilians, dead.

The Gaza Health Ministry said Wednesday that since October 7, Israeli forces have killed at least 10,569 Palestinians—including more than 2,800 women and over 4,300 children—while wounding upward of 26,400 others and forcibly displacing a staggering 70% of Gaza's population.

"There is a deafening silence of so many countries and so many political leaders who could do something," said Belarra. "It seems the display of hypocrisy, which the European Commission is showing, is unacceptable."

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