Top EU diplomat urges Israel to end military operation in Rafah

by IANS |

Brussels, May 15 (IANS/DPA) Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell urged Israel to "immediately" end its military operation in Rafah in a statement on Wednesday.

The EU foreign policy chief said the Israeli offensive in Gaza's southernmost city is disrupting deliveries of humanitarian aid and "leading to more internal displacement, exposure to famine and human suffering."

Borrell said the European Union called on Israel to "refrain from further exacerbating the already dire humanitarian situation in Gaza." He warned that continuing the assault will strain EU-Israel relations.

While the EU recognises Israel's right to defend itself, "Israel must do so in line with International Humanitarian Law and provide safety to civilians," Borrell said.

Israel's allies, including its main backer, the United States, have been warning Israel for weeks against a ground offensive into Rafah, where more than one million Palestinians had been sheltering from fighting elsewhere in the coastal strip.

The Israeli army advanced on Rafah from the east at the beginning of last week and has since also taken control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing to Egypt.

On Tuesday, Israeli troops advanced deeper into central Rafah, according to eyewitnesses in the overcrowded city.

Borrell said the EU called for "all parties to redouble their efforts to achieve an immediate ceasefire" and for the unconditional release of all hostages taken by Hamas during the October 7 attacks.

Around 1,200 people were killed and 250 others taken hostage in the unprecedented massacre by Hamas and other Islamist groups in Israel.

The terrorist attack triggered the Gaza war, and around 35,000 Palestinians have since been killed in Israeli airstrikes and fighting on the ground.

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