EU’s Borrell calls on US, allies to cease arms supply to Israel over Rafah attack

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European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has called on Israel’s allies, especially the United States, to cease supplying it with weapons as “too many people” are being killed in Gaza, Al Jazeera reported. Citing US President Joe Biden’s statement from last week regarding Israel’s military action being “over the top,” Borrell on Monday said: “Well, if you believe that too many people are being killed, maybe you could provide less arms in order to prevent so many people from having been killed.”

“Is [it] not logical?” he questioned in a Brussels news conference alongside Philippe Lazzarini, head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), who Israel is pressuring to resign, as per Al Jazeera “How many times have you heard the most prominent leaders and foreign ministers around the world say too many people are being killed?” Borrell asked.

According to Al Jazeera, Borrell added, “If the international community believes that this is a slaughter, that too many people are being killed, maybe we have to think about the provision of arms.” Additionally, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s instructions are being criticised by the Chief EU diplomat: that more than a million Palestinians seeking refuge in the Gaza city of Rafah be “evacuated” ahead of a planned Israeli military operation there.

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Borrell asked Israeli PM that, “They are going to evacuate – where? To the moon? Where are they going to evacuate these people?” The EU foreign policy chief expressed concerned over an invasion of the southern Gaza city of Rafah. On February 11, he said an assault there “would lead to an unspeakable humanitarian catastrophe” and grave tensions with neighbouring Egypt. Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis stated that European countries share responsibility for the atrocities being committed in Gaza.

“We Europeans created the problem … we are playing a vicious role, in its perpetuation,” Varoufakis told Al Jazeera. Borrell was blamed by the former finance minister for hypocrisy for saying not enough pressure was being applied to Israel, asserting that the EU was “collectively arming” Israel. “As we speak, Germany, France, and Italy are sending the armaments that are being used in Rafah to kill people,” Varoufakis added.

Moreover, Volker Turk, the UN’s human rights chief, has also expressed distress over an anticipated Israeli ground assault on Rafah. Turk said it is “wholly imaginable what would lie ahead” if the planned incursion is not stopped. Additionally, he added in his statement that “A potential full-fledged military incursion into Rafah, where some 1.5 million Palestinians are packed against the Egyptian border with nowhere further to flee, is terrifying, given the prospect that an extremely high number of civilians, again mostly children and women, will likely be killed and injured.”

The majority of Gaza’s population has sought refuge in Rafah to escape Israeli airstrikes, which have devastated large parts of the Gaza Strip. Hamas, the governing body in Gaza, has cautioned Israel that any ground incursion into Rafah could disrupt ongoing negotiations for a ceasefire and the exchange of prisoners. Palestinian authorities report that over 28,340 people, predominantly women and children, have lost their lives in the Israeli offensive since October.

Aid agencies estimate that more than 80 percent of Gaza’s population has been displaced, and extensive damage has been inflicted on the region. Israel initiated its military campaign in response to a surprise attack by Hamas on southern Israel on October 7, resulting in the deaths of at least 1,139 individuals, primarily civilians, according to an Al Jazeera analysis of official Israeli data.