European diplomacy angered by Rafah operation: “Where to go? Moon?

Europe is raising its voice. International pressure intensified on Tuesday February 13 for a truce agreement between Israel and the Islamist movement Hamas, after the Israeli announcement of an upcoming offensive on Rafah, the last refuge for more than a million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. .

Faced with international fears, Benjamin Netanyahu affirmed on Sunday that Israel would open “a secure passage” to the population to leave the city located in the south of the Gaza Strip, without specifying to which destination. Palestinian families, many already displaced several times and fearing having to move again, began on Tuesday to dismantle their tents and gather their belongings.

The UN will not be associated with “a forced population displacement” in Rafah, warned Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for the UN Secretary General.

As you can see in the video at the top of the article, this possibility caused a fit of anger from the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell. “They are going to evacuate” the Palestinians: “Where? On the moon ? », asked the High Representative of the Union in Brussels
for foreign affairs and security policy. The latter also made a plea for an end to the sale of weapons to the Israeli army.

Release of hostages

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently ordered his army to prepare an offensive on Rafah, where 1.4 million Palestinians are massed, according to the UN, more than half of the territory’s total population, most of them having fled the war that has been raging for four months.

He repeated on Monday his determination to continue “military pressure until complete victory” on Hamas, of which Rafah is the “last bastion”, to free “all our hostages”.

A few hours earlier, Israel had released two hostages, Israeli-Argentinians, in Rafah, on the border with Egypt, during a night operation accompanied by bombings which left around a hundred dead, according to the authorities of the Palestinian Islamist movement. , in power in Gaza since 2007.

“Unbearable” humanitarian situation

The United States, Israel’s main ally, opposes a large-scale operation without a solution for civilians stuck on the closed border with Egypt in the far south of the territory.

US President Joe Biden called for a “credible” plan from Israeli forces to spare civilians in Rafah who are “exposed and vulnerable”, during a meeting Monday at the White House with the King of Jordan Abdullah II.

He further thanked Jordan for providing humanitarian aid to Gaza, including “a few days” ago: Abdullah II “personally boarded a plane and participated in the airdrop of urgent medical supplies to Gaza “.

“We cannot afford an Israeli attack on Rafah”, where the humanitarian situation is already “unbearable”, said Abdallah II, who also called for “an immediate lasting ceasefire” in Gaza.

“The United States is working on an agreement to release the hostages (…), which would immediately bring a period of calm of at least six weeks to Gaza,” said the American president.

China, for its part, on Tuesday called on Israel to stop its military operation in Rafah “as quickly as possible,” in order to “prevent an even more serious humanitarian catastrophe.”

More than 28,000 dead in Gaza

The war was sparked on October 7 by an unprecedented attack by Hamas commandos infiltrated from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,160 people, the majority civilians killed that day. , according to an AFP count based on official Israeli data.

In retaliation, the Israeli government vowed to “destroy” the Islamist movement, which it considers a “terrorist” organization, along with the United States and the European Union.

The Israeli offensive left 28,473 people dead in the Gaza Strip, the vast majority of them civilians, according to the Hamas government’s Health Ministry.

According to Israel, 130 hostages are still in Gaza, 29 of whom are believed to have died, out of around 250 people kidnapped on October 7. A week-long truce in November allowed the release of 105 hostages in exchange for 240 Palestinians detained by Israel.

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