Croatian President Zoran Milanović said he did not sympathize with Israel over its retaliatory actions in Gaza following Hamas attacks last weekend, and criticized the display of the Israeli flag in his country.
In comments to the media on Thursday, Milanović criticized Israel for its retaliatory strikes in Gaza, which have so far killed more than 1,500 people according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, and called the Croatian Affairs Ministry’s decision foreigners to display the Israeli flag in front of its building in solidarity with the country “a stupid gesture”.
“Despite all my sympathy for Israel, which they unfortunately lost in 15 minutes… there is no place for other flags in Croatia, except in strictly regulated situations,” Milanović said. “I condemned the (Hamas) killings, I even expressed my disgust and horror, but the right to defense does not include the right to revenge and the murder of civilians,” he said. added.
The Israeli strikes on Gaza came in response to a wave of attacks by Hamas militants crossing the country’s border, killing more than 1,200 people and bringing around 150 hostages back to Gaza.
Milanović also said he would lower the EU and NATO flags in his presidential office below that of Croatia, saying they are “not the same” and therefore should not be hung on the same level.
Elected president in 2020, Milanović served as Prime Minister of Croatia between 2011 and 2016.
Milanović has made controversial remarks in the past, ranging from comparing the Ukrainian patriotic song “Slava Ukraini” to a Nazi salute, to threatening to withdraw Croatian troops from NATO forces stationed in Eastern Europe.