Croatia’s President Zoran Milanovic has condemned Israel’s bombing of civilians in Gaza, saying that it has gone beyond self-defense and that he has lost his sympathy for the Jewish state.
Milanovic, who is known for his outspoken views, made the remarks on Saturday during a visit to the coastal city of Split, where he attended a ceremony marking the anniversary of Croatia’s independence from Yugoslavia.
“I have no sympathy for the Israeli government. I had it before, but I lost it because they are bombing the civilians,” Milanovic said, according to local media reports.
He added that he supports the right of Israel to exist and to defend itself from rocket attacks by Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, but that he does not agree with its disproportionate use of force.
“They have the right to do that, but not to kill children and civilians who have nothing to do with it. That is a crime and it cannot be justified,” he said.
Milanovic’s comments came amid a surge of violence in the Middle East, where Israel and Hamas have been exchanging fire for more than a week, leaving hundreds of people dead and thousands injured.
The conflict has sparked international condemnation and calls for a ceasefire, as well as protests and clashes in several countries.
Croatia, a member of the European Union and NATO, has traditionally maintained good relations with Israel, but has also expressed support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.