26 EU countries warn Israel against Rafah offensive after giving Ramadan deadline for release of Hostages by Hamas

Tuesday, February 20, 2024
 – All European Union countries except Hungary warned Israel on Monday against launching an offensive in Rafah that they said would deepen the catastrophe of some 1.5 million refugees crammed into the city on the southern edge of Gaza.

"An attack on Rafah would be absolutely catastrophic ... it would be unconscionable," Ireland's Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said before a meeting of foreign ministers from the 27 EU member states in Brussels.

After the talks ended, all but one of them called in a joint statement for "an immediate humanitarian pause that would lead to a lasting ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages and the provision of humanitarian assistance".

The statement was issued in the name of "Foreign Ministers of 26 Member-States of the European Union" and diplomats said Hungary - a close ally of the Israeli government - was the sole country that did not sign up.

"We ask 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," the ministers said.

Israel on Sunday issued a warning, stating that an offensive would be started in Rafah if Hamas does not release all captives held in Gaza by March 10.

Ramadan – the Islamic holy month of fasting – this year begins on 10 March.

This is the first time Israel has disclosed a potential date for its forces to invade the congested southern metropolis of Gaza.

An attack like this in Rafah, where almost 1.5 million Palestinians are seeking refuge, has been condemned by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran and the US who fear a refugee crisis.

While speaking on Sunday, Israeli war cabinet member and former defense minister Benny Gantz said;

“The world must know, and Hamas leaders must know – if by Ramadan our hostages are not home, the fighting will continue everywhere, to include the Rafah area”.

Gantz also said Israel would act in “a co-ordinated manner, facilitating the evacuation of civilians in dialogue with our American and Egyptian partners to minimise civilian casualties”.

The Israeli war cabinet, which is made up of the leading security officers in Israel, was established a few days after terrorists headed by Hamas stormed Israel on October 7th, leaving at least 1,200 dead and capturing 253 prisoners. Israel estimates that roughly 130 captives are still being held in Gaza by Hamas.

According to reports, Gantz’s reference to Egypt might intensify rumours that Israel anticipates that some Palestinians will flee the Gaza Strip and take refuge on the Egyptian side of the border, where the government is reportedly constructing a sizable walled enclosure specifically for this purpose.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to overthrow the Hamas militants in Rafah by going on the offensive

Egypt and a few other Arab nations have cautioned on several occasions that an Israeli attack on Rafah would run the risk of forcing a large number of Palestinians into Egypt, something they find unacceptable. In the event that Rafah is overrun, Saudi Arabia has threatened “very serious repercussions”.

Post a Comment