A Jewish caller to the Belgian terror hotline trying to arrange the return of two Israeli survivors of the Brussels bombings was told ‘there is no such country as Israel’.
The Jewish coordination committee volunteer, from Antwerp, phoned to enquire about documents needed to discharge two casualties of last week’s bombings at Zaventem Airport and fly them home.
The operator – who gave his name as Zakaria but refused to give his surname- repeatedly referred to ‘Israel’ as ‘Palestine’ during the call on Thursday.
In response to the request to transport the survivors’ home to Israel, Zakaria replied ‘They will go back to Palestine’. When rebuked by the Jewish volunteer, he persists in referring to Israel as Palestine like ‘before’.
When questioned on why, Zakaria replied: ‘I know the Jews went there, that Palestine welcomed them and that there is a war between Israel and Palestine, of course’ and began to mention the ongoing troubles in the region.
He did, however, agree to help the caller with his request to arrange the repatriation of the victims.
The call to the Belgian Interior Ministry’s line was recorded and posted on Belgian Jewish News site Joods Actueel.
The Interior was quick to point out that the employee in question was hired as a call centre worker and not a member of the Interior.
IPG, who run the crisis call centre, confirmed to Joods Actueel that have dismissed the employee.
Chief executive Jan Vermeer said: ‘We wish in this way to apologize to all members of the Jewish community and to the victims and their relatives in Israel’