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European officials 'horrified,' harshly criticize Israel's plans to advance on Hamas’ last stronghold

Defense Minister Gallant vows IDF offensive will soon reach Rafah

Israeli soldiers operating in Gaza (Photo: IDF)

Israel's plans to advance on the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip were met with harsh criticism by several European officials on Saturday, including the German foreign minister.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced that after the IDF's focused fighting in Khan Younis is under control, Israel Defense Forces would advance on Rafah, which lies on the Strip’s southern border with Egypt.

Rafah is still under Hamas control and is the last major town in the Strip the IDF ground offensive has yet to target.

“The operation in the Khan Younis area is progressing and yielding impressive results. We are achieving our missions in Khan Younis, and we will also reach Rafah and eliminate terror elements that threaten us,” Gallant said during an operational situation assessment in Khan Younis on Thursday.

Gallant's announcement was met with panicked remarks by several European and UN officials.

The European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said that despite Israel claiming the area near the border was a safe zone, around one million Palestinians were currently “displaced progressively against the Egyptian border,” and are now subject to bombing, “creating a very dire situation.”

Borrell also claimed that this could torpedo the current negotiations with the Hamas terror organization over the release of the remaining 132 Israeli hostages being held captive in the Gaza Strip.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that she had received Gallant’s announcement “with horror.”

“To advance now in Rafah, the last and most crowded place, as the Israeli Defense Minister announced, could simply not be justified,” Baerbock said Saturday.

The German foreign minister added that she had been telling the Israeli government for some time now that “Gazans couldn’t simply disappear into thin air.”

The minister from Germany’s far-left Green Party continued to demand a new ceasefire to free the hostages and end the “daily inhuman suffering of children and civilians,” adding that she was opposed to the dissolution of UNRWA.

Germany, like many European governments, was at first very supportive of Israel in the wake of Oct. 7, but has increasingly condemned its war effort and called for a ceasefire.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, who in the past has repeatedly drawn the ire of Israeli representatives for making anti-Israeli statements, also said he was “deeply worried” by Gallant’s comments.

Türk said this had set off “alarm bells for massive civilian casualties & further displacement” for the “already vulnerable Palestinians ordered into Rafah by IDF.”

Last November, Türk accused Israel of committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

“The collective punishment by Israel of Palestinian civilians is also a war crime, as is unlawful forcible evacuation of civilians,” he said.

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

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