The European Union’s top diplomat reiterated his call for Israel to protect civilian life in Gaza as he began a five-day visit to the region on Thursday.
High Representative Josep Borrell’s visit to Israel began with a visit to Kibbutz Berri, located just 3 kilometers from Gaza, where at least 130 people, including women, children and infants, were massacred by Hamas militants on October 7 . At least 1,400 Israelis were killed and 240 others were kidnapped in the terrorist attack.
Borrell said, “I understand the fear and pain of people who have been attacked, murdered, kidnapped. I understand your anger. But I want to ask you not to get lost in anger “
He also said, “I think Israel’s best friend can tell you this. The difference between a civilized society and a terrorist group is respect for human life.”
He once again supported Israel’s right to self-defense within the limits of international humanitarian law, and called for the defeat of Hamas – which the EU and the US consider a terrorist organization – and the unconditional release of all hostages.
Israel has retaliated against the October 7 attack with a heavy bombing campaign against the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, which has killed more than 11,000 people so far, according to local officials. The Israeli army has also surrounded the enclave. Fuel is now so scarce that some critical infrastructure, including desalination plants and hospitals, can barely power themselves.
Meanwhile humanitarian aid has reached Gaza as only one land border crossing with Egypt is now open. Dozens of humanitarian aid trucks pass through the Rafah crossing daily, down from 500 a day before the latest surge.
Borrell called for unhindered humanitarian access to Gaza and the establishment and freeze of humanitarian corridors, as requested by EU leaders during their summit in late October.
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, who accompanied Borrell to the kibbutz, said: “We must all unite to liberate Gaza from Hamas for the security of the State of Israel, the security of the people of Gaza, and the entire world. Otherwise , Europe will be next.”
The High Representative will also visit the West Bank, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will meanwhile travel to Egypt and Jordan over the weekend.