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EU condemns Hamas use of human shields, calls Israel to show ‘maximum restraint’ as demands for ceasefire continue

Israel’s military operations to continue despite criticism, FM Cohen says

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrel calls for 'immediate' humanitarian pauses in Gaza, Nov. 13, 2023 (Photo: Screenshot)

All 27 nations of the European Union condemned the Hamas terror organization for its use of hospitals and civilians as “human shields” in the war against Israel, while not explicitly calling for a ceasefire, a rare win for Israel’s diplomacy amid increasing international criticism of Israel in the 38-day old war.

However, the EU did call “for immediate pauses in hostilities and the establishment of humanitarian corridors, including through increased capacity at border crossings and through a dedicated maritime route, so that humanitarian aid can safely reach the population of Gaza,” while also demanding Hamas release all its hostages immediately.

EU Foreign Affairs Chief Josep Borrell also called on Israel to exercise “maximum restraint in targeting in order to avoid human casualties.”

Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen commented on the international campaign for a ceasefire on Monday, estimating that Israel’s political time window to act in Gaza until heavy international pressure begins to be somewhere between “two to three weeks.”

“From a political point of view, we recognize that pressure has begun on Israel. The pressure is not very high but it’s increasing. In the talks I hold, the emphasis is placed on the humanitarian issue,” Cohen said.

“The part of identification and shock from the massacre of October 7 is reduced. There are also those who are asking, not publicly, for a ceasefire,” he added.

Cohen emphasized, however, that Israel’s military activity will continue, even against the will of the international community, saying, “In any case, we will continue according to the plans.”

The EU foreign ministers representing 27 nations expressed a much-needed show of unity in a statement they issued following their gathering, as they haven’t been seeing eye to eye regarding their positions on the war between Israel and the Hamas terrorists.

While French President Emmanuel Macron caused uproar in Israel by calling for a ceasefire and suggesting that Israel was killing civilians - which he quickly backtracked - German Chancellor Olaf Scholz rejected calls for a ceasefire just a day prior to the meeting.

“I’ll gladly admit that I do not find the call that some are making for an immediate ceasefire or a long pause –which are basically the same thing – right,” Scholz said, as it would mean “Israel should let Hamas recover and purchase new rockets again. So that they can shoot again. This won’t be acceptable.”

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock concurred on Friday during a trip to the Middle East, but decided to sign the EU statement on Monday.

Regarding the calls for a ceasefire, Baerbock said, “I understand the impetus. But the truth also means: Anyone who calls for a general ceasefire at this moment must also say what that means for the strength of Hamas and for the fate of the more than 200 hostages.”

Still, demands from world leaders and NGOs that Israel declare a ceasefire haven’t let up.

Baerbock spoke on the sidelines of a rare joint Islamic-Arab summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday. During that summit, there were also calls for an immediate end to Israeli military operations in Gaza, while rejecting Israel’s justification of its actions as self-defense.

The over 60 Arab and Muslim countries urged the International Criminal Court to investigate “war crimes and crimes against humanity that Israel is committing,” according to a final communique.

Among the summit attendees were Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

International Human Rights organizations like Amnesty International also joined the call for a ceasefire.

“The expanding humanitarian and human rights catastrophe unfolding in Gaza urgently needs to end,” the group said in a statement during the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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