The office of the federal Belgian development agency Enabel in Gaza has been bombed by the Israeli army. There is nothing left of the building. The federal government in Brussels is furious and demands explanations from the Israeli ambassador. The situation is also being ‘investigated to the bottom’, the government said. There is a lot of speculation in Belgium about Israel’s motives for the bombing, which took place on Wednesday.
Enabel implements development programs drawn up by the government in various countries. It often opts for direct aid to the population and civil society rather than financing controversial regimes. Ebabel worked well with UNRWA, the controversial and discredited UN organization whose employees may have participated in Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel on October 7.
According to Belgian analysts, the destruction of the building does not come easily. Belgium decided not to temporarily withdraw its support for UNRWA, something that many other countries, including the Netherlands and Germany, have already done. The Belgians almost assume that the IDF must therefore have carried out a retaliatory action to punish them. On the other hand, the property would be located in the future buffer zone between Gaza and Israel, for which it would have had to make way.
Caroline Gennez (Vooruit), the Belgian Minister for Development Cooperation, is very hot. She writes on X: ‘Attacking civilian buildings is and remains completely unacceptable’. She has already summoned the Israeli ambassador to come by for an explanation. Minister of Foreign Affairs Hadja Lahbib (MR) agrees and says that Belgium will have the matter ‘resolved to the bottom’. There have been no human casualties so far.
“No one will say it officially, because you obviously cannot verify that, but the timing is remarkable,” says VRT journalist Inge Vrancken on Flemish Radio 1. “It is not illogical that people link one thing to the other, but it is something that only Israel can provide clarity about and it seems to me that they will be open about it.” According to Francken, the Belgian ministers are ‘giving a signal, otherwise you just let it pass’.
Belgium and Israel have been at odds with each other for months. Since last summer, Gennez has been agitating against Israel with anti-Israel one-liners in the media. It caused resentment and diplomatic rows arose. After October 7, Belgium pursued a zigzag policy towards Israel, partly because the parties in the broad Vivaldi government disagree with each other about the file. An action by Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Open VLD) at the Gaza border and new spicy comments from Gennez about Germany have not done the country’s diplomatic position any good.