General image of Almuñécar-La Herradura. Javier Martín
This is why a town on the south coast of Spain is twinned with a city on the Gaza Strip

This is why a town on the south coast of Spain is twinned with a city on the Gaza Strip

Almuñécar forged ties with the Palestinian city of Khan Younis almost 40 years ago

Pilar García-Trevijano


Thursday, 19 October 2023, 09:37


Since 1986, some 37 years ago, Almuñécar-La Herradura has been twinned to Khan Younis, a city in the south-western part of the Gaza Strip.

The city, which lies four kilometres from the Mediterranean Sea, is now overcome with uncertainty due to the Israeli offensive following the Hamas bombing and surprise attack a week ago. Khan Younis has several Palestinian refugee camps, the most important being the Al Amal camp, home to thousands of refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. About 200,000 inhabitants live there.

To find out why Almuñécar is twinned a city 3,530 kilometres away, we have to go back three decades. According to Antonio Olid, former councillor for culture at Almuñécar Town Hall, between 1983 and 1987 the council commissioned the Granada sculptor Miguel Moreno to create a statue of Abd al-Rahman I, a statue which can be found on the lower part of the San Cristóbal rock, next to the Caletilla, opposite the old Hotel Sexi.

The unveiling of the statue coincided with a series of Hispano-Arabic meetings organised in collaboration with the provincial Diputación government. At these annual meetings, usually proposed by the League of Arab States, Almuñécar-La Herradura was twinned with an Arab town. Almuñécar has forged closer ties with Kelibia (Tunisia), Chinguetti (Mauritania) and Larache (Morocco) thanks to this. At a Red Crescent meeting, a humanitarian movement promoted by the Red Cross worldwide based on support for international conventions, it was proposed to twin the town. Yasser Arafat, a member of the Arab League and former leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), proposed the initiative. Arafat's brother, Fathi, was Arab president of the Red Cross at the time.

Founded in 1945, the Arab League's initial objectives were to ensure that the other Arab states still colonised by European countries became independent, and that the Jewish minority in the British Mandate of Palestine did not establish an independent state (Israel). Hence the Arab League proposed the alliance with Almuñécar.

The twinning between Almuñécar and Khan Yunis came into effect on 8 October 1986 with its confirmation in the full council session, a procedure during which the Town Hall secretary had to ask for help - they did not know how to write the town's name in the minutes of the session. Almuñécar also has a street, near the health centre, named in memory of this event.

Twinning, while not an obligation, is a concept whereby towns or cities in different geographical and political areas are paired together to promote human contact and cultural links.

Solidarity with brothers

Almuñécar United for the People has called for "solidarity" with Khan Younis. "Our municipality must stand in solidarity with our neighbours in our sister town of Khan Younis" and "we ask that the town council publicly condemn the war crimes committed against the defenceless civilian population in our sister town."

Francisco Fernández also wanted to point out " that people under occupation have the right to resist, as has been the case for the Palestinian people for seventy-five years".

"Israel has launched massive air strikes on civilians and in these attacks on the weekend, the Israeli army killed dozens of civilians, including babies, in the village of Khan Younis, twinned with Almuñécar," he added.

According to the left-wing party, "the Israeli occupation has imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip since 2007, creating a humanitarian crisis. Gaza is a small territory in which 2.4 million people are crammed together and has already been declared uninhabitable by the United Nations due to the lack of access to basic resources to survive."

Sources close to the government have stated that they will not comment on this conflict and that they do not maintain relations with the Palestinian city.

Reporta un error en esta noticia

* Campos obligatorios