European Council President Charles Michel speaks during an exclusive interview with the Associated Press at the EU Council in Brussels, Friday Oct. 13, 2023. AP
“This conflict has many consequences, including for us in the European Union,” EU Council President Charles Michel said in a video statement announcing that he had convened the virtual meeting. “The conflict could have major security consequences for our societies.”
Since the unprecedented attack by the Palestinian militant group, Hamas on Israel on Oct. 7, which triggered the latest Gaza war, France has ordered a ban on pro-Palestinian demonstrations and the number of antisemitic acts has risen. Low-level rallies have been held in other EU countries.
The Louvre Museum in Paris and Versailles Palace evacuated visitors and staff after receiving bomb threats over the weekend, and the French government started deploying 7,000 troops to increase security around the country following a fatal school stabbing by a suspected Islamic extremist.
Germany too has ramped up security. Berlin has offered military help to Israel and promised to crack down on support for Hamas at home. Chancellor Olaf Scholz has underlined Germany’s historical responsibility for Israel’s security.
Michel said that the war “has a potential to worsen tensions between communities and to feed extremism” in Europe, and that “there is a major risk of migration and movements of a large number of people to neighboring countries.”
He said that the leaders would look at ways to help civilians in Israel and Gaza caught up in the war and to work with other countries in the Middle East and Persian Gulf regions to try to prevent the conflict from spreading.
More than a million people have fled their homes in Gaza ahead of an expected Israeli ground invasion aimed at destroying Hamas.