MADRID – José Manuel Albares, Spain’s Foreign Minister, confirmed in an interview with La Hora de la 1 that two Spaniards were “affected” by Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel from Gaza.
It concerns a 46-year-old man from the Basque Country and a 19-year-old woman with both Spanish and Israeli nationalities.
The minister released few details about the conditions of these two people, emphasising the need for “discretion” and “respect” for them and their families.
Background of those involved
According to diplomatic sources, the 19-year-old woman is from Andalucia and has dual nationality. Maya Villalobo Sinvany is said to be a member of the Israeli Defense Forces currently doing her military service. The 46-year-old Spanish man comes from Zarautz (Basque Country) and has lived in a kibbutz near the Gaza Strip for years. Their families have been unable to contact them for hours, leading to speculation that they may be being held by Hamas.
Number of Spaniards in the area
When asked how many Spaniards could be in Israel at the moment, the minister stated there are “quite a few.” Diplomatic sources estimate there are approximately 10,000 Spaniards in Israel and the Palestinian territories, many of whom have dual citizenship.
Travel advice updated
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has updated travel advice for Israel and advises against travel unless necessary. They also advise Spaniards in the area to stay inland and near designated shelters.
Albares indicated that there are “concerns” about the possibility of the conflict spreading into the region. “I´ve been in contact with my counterparts in the region all weekend to try to stop the escalation of violence. But it continues and there is a risk of regional expansion,” he said.
Priorities of the Spanish government
For the minister, the priority now is “the immediate end to the violence, the release of persons held against their will, and preventing the regional expansion of this conflict.”