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How war in Israel could affect Spain

The Local Spain
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How war in Israel could affect Spain
Palestinians search for survivors after an Israeli airstrike on buildings in the refugee camp of Jabalia in the Gaza Strip on October 9, 2023. Photo: Mahmud HAMS/AFP.

The outbreak of war in Israel and the Gaza Strip could have several significant consequences for life in Spain, from fuel prices to travel, the economy and reinforced security.


There is another major geopolitical war raging in the world after Palestinian militant group Hamas on Saturday October 7th launched a barrage of rockets to Israel and sent a wave of fighters who gunned down Israeli civilians and took at least 100 hostages.

More than 700 Israelis have been killed and another 1,200 people have been wounded, many critically.

The Israeli army has since retaliated and on Monday said it hit more than 500 targets in the blockaded and impoverished Gaza Strip in overnight clashes, while fighting persisted in seven to eight locations inside Israel around the enclave. The Palestinian death toll is now nearing 500, according to the Gaza-based Health Ministry.

With talk of the 'worst attack in Israeli history' and 'mighty vengeance' on the Jewish part, there is no telling how long this deadly conflict between Hamas and Israel could last, but it's already risking having an impact on world affairs, including in Spain.



Protection of Jewish people and sites in Spain

Like in other countries such as the US and France, in the days after the outbreak of conflict Spanish Security Forces have adopted the "necessary measures" to protect Jewish interests in Spain, according to police sources. The measures are reportedly similar to in other western nations, bolstering protections for Jewish people and cultural and religious sites in case anyone attacks in response to or coinciding with what happens in Israel and the Gaza Strip.

The Spanish government opened up fast-track routes to citizenship for Sephardic Jews back in 2015. So far, 65,809 people have acquired Spanish nationality, according to the latest September 2022 data from the Ministry of Justice.


Commercial ties

War would also likely have a significant impact on Spain's international trade and commercial ties with Israel, an exchange valued at commercial exchange of €3.15 billion a year. Statistics from Spain's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the state agency ICEX (Spain Export and Investments) reveal that in 2022 exports to Israel reached a record figure of €2.17 billion, which represents an increase of 20.2 percent compared to the previous year.

As for bilateral trading in services, ICEX figures reveal that in 2021 there was an exchange of €325 million in exports and €343 million in imports.

READ ALSO: Spain closes probe into hacking of PM's phone over Israel's 'lack of cooperation



Inflation and fuel prices

In recent months in Spain rising fuel prices have put upward pressure on inflation.

If the price of oil is already causing spikes in inflation, the outbreak of full-scale war in Gaza and Israel will likely further destabilise the energy market. Spain's General Council of Economists (CGE) has already warned this could be the case: "War influences the cost of oil, any focus of instability causes future markets to jump and a greater supply of raw material by intermediaries to occur, which causes the price of oil to rise," Antonio Pedraza, president of the CGE's Financial Commission, said in a statement.

"The logical thing is that it rises now and stabilises in the future," Pedraza added.

READ ALSO: Energy prices drive up inflation in Spain in September



Political divisions

Domestic political conflict with regards to Israel-Palestine is not unique to Spain but could play a role in forming broader political divisions as the country continues with a caretaker government. Long a mainstay of domestic politics in the UK and USA, division over Gaza has also already emerged in Spain in the days following the latest flareup of violence in the Middle East.

Debate in Spain has followed the usual political fault lines seen abroad, with the far-left calling for the end of the 'occupation' of Gaza by Israel. Far-left group Sumar on Monday also criticised the 'hypocrisy' of the EU, as have smaller left-wing parties.

Sumar are currently aligned with the ruling Socialists (PSOE) and in negotiations to form a government. PSOE and acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez generally take a more mainstream, pro-EU, pro-NATO line on foreign policy, so splits between the two could prove tricky during negotiations and also give extra ammunition to the Spanish right when it accuses Sánchez of relying on the support of radicals.


Cancelled flights

Around the world several airlines have begun to cancel flights to Tel Aviv due to the ongoing clashes between Hamas and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

On Monday October 9th there were a total of 10 flights scheduled at Madrid-Barajas airport (5 arrivals and 5 departures) and 11 at El Prat Barcelona airport (5 arrivals and 6 departures) to Tel Aviv, according to Aena sources. As of 9.00am, there had already been four cancellations from Barcelona (2 departures and 2 arrivals).

If the conflict continues, flight paths could be disrupted for some time.

If the conflict worsens, expect more flights to and from Israel to be disrupted.



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