EU warns Israel continuing Rafah offensive will put ‘heavy strain’ on ties

Josep Borrell, the head of foreign policy at Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, calls for an immediate end to the campaign in Gaza’s southern city. He also urges the reopening of Rafah Border Crossing for humanitarian aid.

The European Union warned that if Israel did not end its military operations in Gaza’s Rafah immediately, it would damage relations with the EU.

Josep Borrell, the EU’s chief of foreign policy, said that if Israel continued its military operation in Rafah it would put heavy strains on its relationship with Israel.

The statement warned that the military operation was “further disrupting humanitarian aid distribution in Gaza” and “leading to internal displacement and exposure to famine.”

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Last week, the IDF sent troops into Rafah in southern Gaza. It described the operation as “precise”, with soldiers holding a small area to the southeast of the town. Israel has been threatening a major assault in Rafah as part of the war against Hamas that began after the terror group’s October 7th attack.

The EU bloc, which consists of 27 countries and is the largest trading partner for Israel and the Palestinian Territories, said that Israel had ordered more than one million people to leave Rafah and move to other areas the UN has deemed unsafe.

The EU said that while it recognized Israel’s right of self-defense, Israel had to do so in accordance with International Humanitarian Law. It also stated that Israel was required to provide safety for civilians.

Israel must allow humanitarian aid into the country, according to this statement. The statement called on Israel to “refrain from exacerbating Gaza’s already dire humanitarian conditions and reopening the Rafah crossing point.”

The EU condemned Hamas’ attack on Kerem Shalom, a border crossing between Israel and Gaza. Four IDF soldiers died in the attack. Ten others were wounded. The IDF reopened this crossing a few days after the attack.

Cairo has halted coordination for the IDF to deliver humanitarian aid through the Rafah Crossing, which is the main conduit from Egypt into Gaza. Israel blames Egypt for the stop in deliveries, while the Egyptians insist the Gaza side terminal is operated by Palestinians.

Israeli officials said that four of Hamas’s six remaining battalions, as well as the terror group’s leadership, and perhaps many of the Hamas hostages who were taken on October 7, are located in Rafah. It has been under pressure from the US, as well as the majority of the international community, to refrain from launching a full-scale attack in the city.

In recent days, the IDF intensified its operation in Gaza’s southernmost town of Rafah. Nearly 450,000 Palestinians out of the approximately one million who were sheltering there have now evacuated.

The EU stated that “we call on all parties redouble efforts in order to achieve a ceasefire immediately and unconditional release of all Hamas hostages.”

On October 7, Hamas launched a deadly cross-border attack against Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,200 people. The terrorists that smashed through the border from Gaza and rampaged through southern Israel also kidnapped 252 hostages.

Israel launched a military operation to eliminate Hamas and topple the regime in Gaza, as well as free all hostages. 128 remain captive, with some of them no longer living.

Hamas’ Gaza Health Ministry says that more than 35 000 people have died in the Strip in fighting. This figure cannot be independently verified, and it includes the 15,000 terrorists Israel claims to have killed in battle. Israel claims to have killed 1,000 terrorists in Israel on October 7th.

Israel’s allies in the United States, EU and United Nations have warned Jerusalem that a major military operation in Rafah would increase the death toll among civilians.

The US has said that the military operations in Rafah up to this point do not amount to the major offensive they have warned against. The administration has stated that it will be closely monitoring the situation.