EU calls for reduction in weapons deployed against Gaza

The effects of Israeli military intervention in the Gaza Strip after October 7, 2023 now appear disproportionate to most. The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, calls for consequences to be drawn and the influx of arms to be reduced.

Four firm no’s. The EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, did not mince his words during the informal meeting of the 27 cooperation and development ministers, held in Brussels on 12 February. Developing, according to him, “logical reasoning”, Mr. Borrell explained Europe’s position on Israel’s attitude towards the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and, more generally, towards what takes place in the Middle East.

The first refusal concerns Israel’s disproportionate response to the terrorist attack of October 7, which left 100,000 dead, injured or missing among the inhabitants of Gaza (as recalled by Philippe Lazzarini, head of the United Nations agency United for Palestinian Refugees, UNRWA, which was present at the meeting).

The second No concerns the war plans of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who would like to evacuate and attack the town of Rafah, the last portion of the Gaza Strip close to Egypt, where a large part of the population has gathered. civilian fleeing the northern Gaza Strip at the request of the Israeli army.

Another “no” is linked to the unequivocal condemnation of UNRWA, which is the subject of a UN investigation concerning the accusations brought against a dozen members of its staff (suspected of being supporters or organic members of Hamas), and the cessation announced by certain governments of the payment of funds to the Agency; a blockage that would end up penalizing not only the 1.3 million people inside the Strip, but also Palestinian refugees outside Gaza (2,117,361 in Jordan; 774,167 in the West Bank, 528,616 in Syria and 452 669 in Lebanon).

A clear and direct warning that Borrell addressed to the United States and other arms supplying countries. The “logical reasoning” is as follows: those who say they want the massacre to stop must also stop providing the means that fuel it.

“Many people, and even recently US President Joe Biden,” recalled the EU High Representative, “have declared that military operations in Gaza were no longer proportionate, that the number of civilians killed was intolerable. And this assessment is being made by more and more people around the world. But my question is this: apart from words, what do you think should be done if you believe that the price to pay in terms of deaths is too high? If you think too many people are being killed, perhaps you should provide fewer weapons to prevent so many people being killed. Isn’t that logical? »

In 2006, during the Lebanese war against Hezbollah, the United States had already acted in this direction, by suspending the supply of arms to Israel “because they did not want to stop the war”, recalls Mr. Borrell . Today, however, things seem to be going in the opposite direction.

In December, for example, the United States and Israel signed a major agreement that includes the supply of several F-35 and F15 Al fighter jets, as well as Apache helicopters, according to Israeli television station Channel 12. This agreement comes in addition to other supplies of weapons of war, munitions and military technology.

The United States tops the list of arms suppliers to Israel. Over the past decade, around 70% of Israeli weapons came from abroad. Among the main companies are three American companies: Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Technologies and Boeing.

The second largest arms supplier to Israel is Germany, with a 24% share, according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri). Italy comes in third position with 5.6%.

As for Hamas, although there is no official data, the main supplier is believed to be Iran. But a non-marginal role appears to be played by Qatar, which supplies Hamas with money and weapons, hosts Hamas leaders and has open channels with the pro-Iranian Lebanese militia Hezbollah.

In Rome, the Meloni government indicates that “since October 7, no new authorization has been issued for the sale of arms to Israel” (this is what the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Antonio Tajani, declared in his written response to a parliamentary question asked on December 13 to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the EU of the Chamber of Deputies). However, this does not imply the suspension of previously decided deliveries (the arms authorization unit – within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – refuses, for the moment, any other information on exports to the Jewish state).

“It is the arms trade that fuels wars,” Pope Francis keeps repeating. But we continue to look elsewhere. To current conflicts will be added those of tomorrow. They will appear to burst suddenly, yet they will have been previously stocked by the merchants of death.

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