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EU foreign policy chief urges Israel not to launch attack on Rafah

February 16, 2024 at 8:40 pm

European Commission Vice-President and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell in Brussels, Belgium on February 13, 2024 [Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu via Getty Images]

The EU’s head of foreign policy urged the Israeli government Friday not to take military action on Rafah city in southern Gaza, where over 1 million uprooted Palestinians have sought refuge from relentless attacks by Tel Aviv, Anadolu news agency reported.

Displaced Palestinians struggle to survive in tents in Rafah [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Displaced Palestinians struggle to survive in tents in Rafah – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

“The European Union is very concerned about Israeli government plans for a possible ground operation in Rafah, where well over a million Palestinians are currently sheltering from the fighting,” Josep Borrell said in an official statement.

While reiterating “the right of Israel to defend itself,” Borrell said Brussels “asks the Israeli Government not to take military action in Rafah that would worsen an already catastrophic humanitarian situation and prevent the urgently needed provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance.”

He called on Tel Aviv to ensure the protection of all civilians in line with international humanitarian law, and to respect the Jan. 26 order of the International Court of Justice, which he noted is legally binding.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the ICJ, which in an interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

Borrell also called on Palestinian group Hamas to release all hostages in Gaza.

The Israeli war on Gaza has pushed 85% of the territory’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Despite international outcry, Israel plans a ground invasion of Rafah, which holds about 1.4 million refugees. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to “fight until complete victory and this includes a powerful action in Rafah.”

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