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ConflictsMiddle East

Israel-Hamas war: Spain, Norway, Ireland recognize Palestine

Published May 28, 2024last updated May 28, 2024

The three European countries have recognized Palestinian statehood, drawing Israeli anger. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has called for an emergency meeting after deadly attacks in Rafah. DW has the latest.

Displaced Palestinians of Salman family ride in a vehicle loaded with their belongings in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, May 27, 2024.
Gaza's health authorities said at least 45 people were killed in an Israeli airstrike on a refugee campImage: Mohammed Salem/REUTERS
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

Here are the latest developments from the Israel-Hamas war and the wider Middle East region on Tuesday, May 28.

Skip next section Macron, Scholz urge Israel to abide by international law
May 28, 2024

Macron, Scholz urge Israel to abide by international law

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron both spoke of the conflict in Gaza at the conclusion of Macron's state visit to Germany, following talks at Schloss Meseberg near Berlin.

"We have condemned in the strongest possible terms the Hamas attacks, we naturally support Israel's right to defend itself — but in line with international law," Macron said.

He described the situation in Rafah as "very worrying," and noted that the International Court of Justice last week called on Israel to stop military operations in the city. 

Scholz made similar comments about keeping any response "in line" with international law, also saying it was important that Israel's government "do what it can to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza." 

He said the reason Germany and many other states had urged Israel not to launch a major ground offensive in Rafah was "because there is not sufficient protection of civilians and there cannot be." 

You can read more on the third and final day of Macron's state visit to Germany here.

Skip next section Palestinians report tank strike on camp in Al-Mawasi, IDF says not involved
May 28, 2024

Palestinians report tank strike on camp in Al-Mawasi, IDF says not involved

Gaza health authorities said on Tuesday that Israeli tanks shelled an evacuation area west of Rafah and killed at least 21 people, but Israel's military disputed the account in its first response. 

The conflicting claims came two days after an Israeli airstrike and a subsequent fire at another displaced persons' camp stirred global condemnation, and hours before an emergency UN Security Council meeting to discuss that incident. 

Medical officials in Gaza said the strike took place in the Al-Mawasi area, designated by Israel as an expanded humanitarian zone after it began military operations in and around Rafah on May 7, and that at least 12 of 21 people killed were women. 

"Contrary to reports from the last few hours, the IDF did not strike in the humanitarian area in Al-Mawasi," the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) military said.

Skip next section Israel says its munitions alone 'could not' have caused Rafah blaze
May 28, 2024

Israel says its munitions alone 'could not' have caused Rafah blaze

The Israeli military says an initial investigation into a strike that sparked a deadly fire in Rafah found the blaze was caused by a secondary explosion.

Palestinian authorities said at least 45 people, including children, were killed when a strike by Israel on Sunday caused a fire to spread through a camp housing displaced Gazans.

In a press briefing on Tuesday, chief military spokesperson Daniel Hagari said the military fired two 17-kilogram (roughly 37-pound) munitions that targeted two senior Hamas militants.

He said the munitions were too small to have ignited such a huge blaze, and that the military was looking into the possibility that weapons stored close to where the airstrike hit may have caught fire.

"Our munition alone could not have ignited a fire of this size," Hagari said, adding that footage of the incident indicated there were secondary explosions following the strike.

"Despite our efforts to minimize civilian casualties, the fire that broke out was unexpected and unintended," he said.

The airstrike, which took place days after the International Court of Jutice ordered Israel to halt its invasion of Rafah, drew international condemnation, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the outcome of the incident a "tragic accident."

Skip next section Spain and Norway officially recognize Palestinian state
May 28, 2024

Spain and Norway officially recognize Palestinian state

Spain and Norway, along with Ireland, became the most recent countries to recognize Palestinian statehood on Tuesday, drawing anger from Israel.

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said that the day would "remain etched in Spanish history" after the Cabinet approved the move.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide also hailed the "milestone" moment as the decision to recognize a Palestinian state came into effect.

The three European countries had planned a simultaneous recognition in the hopes that its symbolism would spur other countries to also commit to recognition, however, on the same day the Danish parliament voted down a proposal for such a move.

"It's the only way of advancing toward what everyone recognizes as the only possible solution to achieve a peaceful future, one of a Palestinian state that lives side by side with the Israeli state in peace and security," Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a televised address before the Cabinet meeting.

Israel has repeatedly condemned the move and on Tuesday its foreign minister accused Sanchez of inciting the genocide of Jews.

Israel's operations in Gaza, especially its most recent move into Rafah, have left it increasingly isolated on the international stage.

Following recognition by Spain, Norway and Ireland, the number of UN member states that recognize a Palestinian state has increased to 146 out of 193, according to Albares. Three permanent UN Security Council members — France, the UK and the US — do not recognize it, though.

'We want to break out of the cycle of violence'

Skip next section Ireland officially recognizes the Palestinian state
May 28, 2024

Ireland officially recognizes the Palestinian state

The Republic of Ireland has recognized the official status of a Palestinian state, the government said on Tuesday.

"The Government recognises Palestine as a sovereign and independent state and agreed to establish full diplomatic relations between Dublin and Ramallah," it said in a statement.

"An Ambassador of Ireland to the State of Palestine will be appointed along with a full Embassy of Ireland in Ramallah."

Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) Simon Harris said the decision had been taken to recognize the Palestinian state to protect the hope for a two-state solution.

"It is about believing that a two-state solution is the only way for Israel and Palestine to live side by side in peace and security," Harris said.

"We had wanted to recognize Palestine at the end of a peace process, however we have made this move alongside Spain and Norway to keep the miracle of peace alive," he added.

Spain and Norway were expected to take the same decision on Tuesday.

Skip next section Israel accuses Spanish PM of incitement against Jews
May 28, 2024

Israel accuses Spanish PM of incitement against Jews

As the Spanish Cabinet met on Tuesday to formally recognize a Palestinian state, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused Spain's prime minister Pedro Sanchez of inciting the killing of Jews.

Katz compared Spain's deputy prime minister, Yolanda Diaz, with Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the leader of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar. Last week, Diaz hailed the move to recognize a Palestinian state, saying: "We cannot stop. Palestine will be free from the river to the sea," which Israel's Madrid envoy denounced as a "clear call for the elimination of Israel."

The Israeli top diplomat said that by not firing Diaz and by recognizing Palestinian statehood, Sanchez was "a partner to incitement to genocide of the Jewish people."

Israel's continued operations in Rafah despite international outcry have formed a wedge with its EU allies, especially Spain, Norway and Ireland, who are all moving to recognize the Palestinian state.

Skip next section Israeli forces reach central Rafah despite global outcry
May 28, 2024

Israeli forces reach central Rafah despite global outcry

Israeli troops, including tanks, were spotted in the Rafah city center on Tuesday, news agencies reported, citing eyewitness accounts.

Witnesses told Reuters they had seen Israeli tanks close to the Al Awda Mosque in Rafah. Meanwhile, Israeli news site ynet reported that tanks had been deployed to the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood, where an Israeli strike on Sunday killed dozens of people, including women and children living in refugee tents.

Israel has not confirmed the reports, but has said it will continue its operations in Rafah despite widespread condemnation for Sunday's attack and mounting pressure from its closest allies over the decision to send troops into Rafah in the first place.

The majority of Gaza's population had sought refuge in Rafah after the Israeli offensive devastated the rest of the enclave. However, many have fled in recent weeks, fearing Israel's new operation in the southern city on the border with Egypt.

Rafah residents reported one of the worst nights of airstrikes and tank fire overnight, according to Reuters, with Israel seemingly determined to continue its operation in the face of increasing international isolation.

Israeli strike on Rafah kills dozens, Gaza ministry says

Skip next section Around a million people flee fighting in Rafah — UNRWA
May 28, 2024

Around a million people flee fighting in Rafah — UNRWA

The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, has said around a million people have fled the southern Gaza city of Rafah since Israel stepped up its offensive there in the past three weeks. 

"This happened with nowhere safe to go & amidst bombardments, lack of food & water, piles of waste & unsuitable living conditions," the agency wrote on X, formerly Twitter. 

"Day after day, providing assistance & protection becomes nearly impossible," it added.

Israel has pushed ahead with its offensive despite a legally binding order by the International Court of Justice to "immediately halt its military offensive in Rafah."

The court characterized the humanitarian situation in Gaza as "disastrous" and "catastrophic."

Skip next section Spain, Ireland and Norway to recognize Palestinian state
May 28, 2024

Spain, Ireland and Norway to recognize Palestinian state

Spain, Ireland and Norway are set to formally recognize Palestinian statehood on Tuesday.

They will join over 140 UN member states in doing so.

Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Romania recognized a Palestinian state before joining the EU, while Sweden offered its recognition in 2014.

Slovenia has said it will decide on whether to recognize Palestinian statehood on Thursday.

On Monday, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused Spain of "rewarding terror" by recognizing a Palestinian state.

Ireland, Norway, Spain to recognize Palestine as state

Skip next section UN's Guterres, rights chief condemn Israeli strike
May 28, 2024

UN's Guterres, rights chief condemn Israeli strike

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has condemned a deadly Israeli airstrike that killed dozens of people in Rafah, southern Gaza.

The strike on Sunday prompted international condemnation. Israel said the incident was being investigated.

"I condemn Israel's actions which killed scores of innocent civilians who were only seeking shelter from this deadly conflict," Guterres said in a post on the platform X, formerly Twitter.

"There is no safe place in Gaza. The horror must stop."

Volker Türk, the UN's human rights chief, also voiced his condemnation of the strike.

"The images from the camp are horrific and point to no apparent change in the methods and means of warfare used by Israel that have already led to so many civilian deaths," Türk said.

He called on Israel to cease its military offensive in Rafah and comply with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) order.

EU calls on Israel to respect UN court order on Rafah

Skip next section UN Security Council to hold meeting after Rafah strike
May 28, 2024

UN Security Council to hold meeting after Rafah strike

The United Nations Security Council is set to hold a closed door emergency meeting following a deadly Israeli airstrike that hit the southern Gaza Strip, according to diplomats.

The meeting was requested by Algeria, the Arab representative on the council, and supported by Slovenia.

The Health Ministry in the Hamas-ruled enclave said 45 people were killed and dozens injured in the airstrike that hit tents housing displaced people.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the strike a "tragic mistake" and said the incident was being investigated.

Israeli strike on Rafah kills dozens, Gaza ministry says

sdi/fb (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)