European Council to convene extraordinary meeting on Israel-Palestine conflict

Sun, 15 Oct 2023 9:25 GMT
Siege, lack of need in Gaza, destruction from shelling 'raising alarm bells' in international community, says Council President Charles Michel
European Council to convene extraordinary meeting on Israel-Palestine conflict

European Council President Charles Michel said Saturday he will hold an extraordinary meeting on the intensifying conflict between Israel and Palestine.

"Nothing justifies Hamas’ brutal terrorist attacks against Israel. Israel has the right to defend itself in full compliance with international law," Michel said in an invitation letter to Council members.

"The unfolding tragic scenes in the Gaza Strip resulting from the siege and the lack of basic needs combined with the destruction brought by significant shelling, are raising alarm bells in the international community," he said.

He said an extraordinary European Council meeting will be held via video conference Tuesday.

Underlining that the unfolding tragedy has consequences for Europe, he said the meeting is important to set a common position and a clear unified course of action.

He stressed four main topics should be addressed due to the ongoing conflict.

They include providing humanitarian assistance and avoiding a regional escalation of the conflict and any breaches of humanitarian law, seeking a lasting and sustainable peace based on a two-state solution through reinvigorated efforts in the Middle East Peace Process, not allowing the conflict to exacerbate tensions between communities and feed extremism, handling major risk of migration.

Israel launched a sustained and forceful military campaign against the Gaza Strip one week ago in response to a military offensive by the Palestinian group Hamas in Israeli territories.

The conflict began last Saturday when Hamas initiated Operation Al-Aqsa Flood -- a multi-pronged surprise attack including a barrage of rocket launches and infiltrations into Israel via land, sea, and air.

Hamas said the operation was in retaliation for the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem and Israeli settlers’ growing violence against Palestinians.

The Israeli military then launched Operation Swords of Iron against Hamas targets within the Gaza Strip.

That response has extended into cutting water and electricity supplies to Gaza, further worsening the living conditions in an area that has endured a crippling siege since 2007, as well as ordering more than 1 million Gazans in the northern strip to evacuate to the southern strip within 24 hours.


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