Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan (Jewish Home) blasted the Spanish government’s crackdown against a regional referendum in the province of Catalonia Sunday, which left nearly 500 people injured, most of them pro-independence demonstrators.
Spanish security forces blocked polling stations across Catalonia, including the regional capital of Barcelona. Police broke into 319 voting stations, local authorities said, and clashed with crowds of voters at other stations.
Catalonia, a semi-autonomous region within the Kingdom of Spain, held the referendum vote Sunday, despite protests by the central Spanish government in Madrid, which declared the plebiscite illegal.
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who supports a Catalan separation from Spain, said earlier that if the referendum saw a majority of “yes” votes, he would declare an independent Catalonia within 48 hours.
The Spanish government, however, has declared the referendum illegal and ordered security forces to bar voters from entering polling stations.
“There has not been a referendum or anything remotely similar,” Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría said.
Deputy Minister Ben-Dahan slammed Madrid’s crackdown on the referendum, noting Spain’s decades-long support for Palestinian statehood.
“For many years, Spain lectured us about how we need to give [national] rights to the Palestinian Arabs,” wrote Ben-Dahan on Twitter. “Today we see their hypocrisy, as [Spain] doesn’t even allow the Catalans to hold a referendum on independence.”
While most Catalans say a referendum on independence should be held, polls show a majority back remaining a part of Spain.