The European Union Parliament

In the wake of the devastating Hamas attack on Israeli soil on October 7, which resulted in around 1,200 Israelis murdered, next to 5,000 injured and the abduction of around 250 individuals, all mostly civilians, Israel's decisive military actions in Gaza, particularly in Rafah, have drawn sharp international focus. Yesterday’s operation, a direct response to these unspeakable acts of terror, has been met with criticism from the European Union, which has called for an immediate cessation of the operations, citing substantial humanitarian concerns and potential strain on EU-Israel relations.

The EU, led by its foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, expressed deep concern over the ongoing military operation's impact on Gaza's civilian population and the distribution of humanitarian aid. More than a million residents in and around Rafah were compelled by Israel to evacuate to areas that, according to the UN, may not be secure, escalating fears of further human suffering and internal displacement.

Despite acknowledging Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself, the EU insists that such defense must align with International Humanitarian Law, specifically the imperative to ensure civilian safety and allow the passage of humanitarian aid. Moreover, the EU strongly condemned a Hamas-initiated attack at the Kerem Shalom border crossing, which severely hindered the delivery of essential humanitarian supplies.

In its statement, the EU underscored the urgent need for all parties to intensify their efforts towards achieving an immediate ceasefire and the unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas. The situation remains volatile, with Israel’s robust military response—characterized by intense aerial bombardments and a ground offensive—reportedly leading to significant casualties in Gaza, with figures from the Gaza health ministry stating over 35,000 fatalities, predominantly among civilians.

The international community, including Israel's principal allies such as the United States and the European Union, along with the United Nations, have all issued warnings against the expansion of military operations in Rafah, concerned about the potential escalation in civilian casualties. This situation underscores the complex interplay of defense, diplomacy, and humanitarian considerations that continue to challenge the pursuit of peace and stability in the region.

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