26 EU states demand 'immediate' halt in Gaza fighting: Borrell

AFP , Monday 19 Feb 2024

All EU countries except Hungary joined a call Monday for an "immediate humanitarian pause" in the Gaza war, foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.

Josep Borrell
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. AFP

The European Union has struggled for a united response to Israel's military operation following the October 7 Al-Aqsa Flood Operation.

But Borrell said foreign ministers from 26 states had agreed on a statement calling for "an immediate humanitarian pause that would lead to a sustainable ceasefire".

The EU countries also reiterated their calls for Israel not to launch an assault on the Gaza city of Rafah, which has become the main shelter zone in the stricken territory.

Hungary is a staunch supporter of Israel and has frequently refused to go along with EU statements seen as critical of the country.

Other EU nations such as Germany have been reluctant until now to call for an "immediate" halt in Israel's operations. It does not want to be seen backing any move that could limit Israel's right to defend itself.

Since Oct.7, over 29,000 people, 70% of them women, and children, have been killed in the Israel military operation in Gaza, the Palestinian health ministry says.

Hamas also took about 250 captives, 130 of whom remain in Gaza, including 30 presumed dead, according to Israel.

Israel has warned that, unless Hamas frees all captives, it will push on with its offensive during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, including in Rafah.

* This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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