Europeans ignored danger, criticised Israel instead: Israeli minister

Europeans ignored danger, criticised Israel instead: Israeli minister

An Israeli minister on Tuesday suggested Europeans had ignored the danger of "Islamic terror cells" and focused on criticising Israel instead, in a statement in response to the Brussels attacks.

While offering condolences over the deadly bombings, Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis also hit out at Europe over its labelling of products from Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

"I will repeat: many in Europe have preferred to occupy themselves with the folly of condemning Israel, labelling products, and boycotts," Akunis, an ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said on his Facebook page.

"In this time, underneath the nose of the continent's citizens, thousands of extremist Islamic terror cells have grown. There were those who repressed and mocked whoever tried to give warning. There were those who underestimated.

"To our sorrow, the reality has struck the lives of dozens of innocent people, powerfully and fatally," the minister from Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party said.

Tuesday's bombings of Brussels airport and a metro train killed around 31 people, officials said, citing initial figures.

In November, new EU guidelines were issued forcing member countries to label imported goods from Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, sparking condemnation from Netanyahu.

Israel has also faced heavy criticism in Europe over settlement building in the occupied West Bank and over alleged abuses against the Palestinians.

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