EU calls on Israel to halt Rafah operation


May 15, 2024


EU calls on Israel to halt Rafah operation

This handout picture released by the Israeli army on May 14, 2024 shows Israeli soldiers during military operations in the Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas/AFP

BRUSSELS: The European Union called on Israel to immediately end its military operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, saying Wednesday that the operation is disrupting humanitarian aid operations and bringing more displacement, famine and human suffering.

The statement from EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell notes Israel’s right to defend itself but says Israel must follow international law and protect civilians.

“The European Union is calling on Israel to refrain from further exacerbating the already dire humanitarian situation in Gaza and reopen the crossing point of Rafah,” Borrell said.

“Should Israel continue its military operation in Rafah, it would inevitably put a heavy strain on the EU’s relationship with Israel.”

Borrell also called on Hamas to unconditionally release all of the hostages it is holding in Gaza.

Israel’s military said Wednesday its forces conducted airstrikes on roughly 80 targets throughout the Gaza Strip during the past day, while ground units fought on the east side of Rafah.

Israeli forces were also battling Hamas in several areas in northern Gaza, four months after the military said it had dismantled the militant group’s infrastructure in the area.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday he was “appalled” by the escalation of military activity in and around Rafah by the Israel Defense Forces, as nearly 450,000 Palestinians have been forcibly displaced from the area in the past week.

“These developments are further impeding humanitarian access and worsening an already dire situation,” his deputy spokesperson, Farhan Haq, told reporters at United Nations headquarters. “At the same time, Hamas goes on firing rockets indiscriminately. Civilians must be respected and protected at all times, in Rafah and elsewhere in Gaza.”

For the past week, the Israeli military has intensified bombardment and other operations in Rafah while ordering the population to evacuate parts of the city.

Israel says it is carrying out a limited operation to destroy the militant infrastructure along Gaza’s border with Egypt.