Friday

23rd Feb 2018

Israel and Hamas compete for EU sympathy

  • Israeli army propaganda poster circulated after the assassination (Photo: Israeli Defence Forces)

Both sides in the new Gaza conflict are competing for international sympathy as fighting escalates.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told EUobserver on Thursday (15 November) morning that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had spoken with foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton by phone the day before.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Giving a flavour of what was said, Regev noted: "I would say this to European governments: I don't think a single European country would tolerate what Israel has gone through in recent months. Name one government that would sit idly by and watch its civilian population being targeted by terrorists. I think any European government would respond and some of them would respond more forcefully than Israel has."

He highlighted that the US has already voiced backing for its operations.

He added that Hamas, the militant group which rules Gaza, is guilty of "war crimes" in aiming rockets at Israeli towns and in using its own civilians as a "human shield" against Israel's "surgical strikes."

Israel says the fighting began because Hamas on Monday shot a missile at an Israeli jeep carrying four soldiers.

It reacted by assassinating Hamas' military commander - Ahmed Jabari - in an air strike which also killed five civilians.

Hamas then began launching hundreds of rockets against Israeli towns within range of Gaza's walls. It fired over 45 missiles since midnight on Thursday alone.

One of them killed three Israeli civilians in Kiryat Malakhi, raising expectations of an Israeli ground incursion reminiscent of operation Cast Lead in 2009.

For his part, Hamas' deputy foreign minister Ghazi Hamad told this website by phone from Gaza that Hamas originally fired on the Israeli jeep "because it entered our territory. It came within 500 metres of people going about their normal business."

"The situation is like a war now," he said.

"I think they [European governments] should open their eyes to the situation here in Gaza, to see what is happening on the ground. Israel is using extreme violence against our citizens ... The international community should not give them permission to kill women and children in the streets. They should tell them to respect international law," he noted.

He added that Hamas expects Egypt's recently-installed Islamist government to help in terms of diplomacy.

"The Egyptian situation has completely changed. I think the new government will tell Israel to stop killing our people. I don't think it will react with indifference as in the past. Inshallah - I think the whole equation in the region has changed."

He also said the escalation suits Netanyahu because he faces upcoming elections - a claim Regev denied.

"It will make him [Netanyahu] look more powerful. They are trying to exploit the situation," Hamad noted.

"This is not about party politics. If you look at the Israeli political situation there is a consensus on this [Israel's militar conduct] from both the left and the right," Regev said.

Hamas has no official contacts with the EU because it is designated as a terrorist entity by European countries.

But the outbreak of violence took place amid a trip by EU foreign ministers and Ashton to Cairo to hold talks with the Arab League.

Ashton's delegation earlier this week unveiled a crisis room built with €1.9 million of EU funds at the league's headquarters in the Egyptian capital.

The facility is designed to help Arab states gather intelligence on emerging crises and to share it more easily with crisis rooms in EU capitals and in Ashton's foreign service in Brussels.

The EU also gave the green light for over €5 billion of loans and grants to the Egyptian government.

European and US leaders in the pre-revolutionary era of former president Hosni Mubarak cultivated close ties with Egypt to make sure it stuck to its peace treaty with Israel.

But there are fears that a big Israeli-Palestinian confrontation could see Egypt's new chief, President Mohammed Morsi, end Egyptian-Israeli security co-operation.

A joint statement by the EU and Egypt after the Cairo event said the two parties will "work as closest allies" and hold more political-level meetings, including on "regional security." It also said EU governments will help Morsi to get back billions of euros of Mubarak's money frozen in European banks.

Meanwhile, Egypt recalled its ambassador to Israel in protest on Gaza.

"The wanton aggression against Gaza proves that Israel has yet to realize that Egypt has changed and that the Egyptian people who revolted against oppression will not accept assaulting Gaza," Morsi's Freedom and Justice party said in a statement.

Hamas appeals for talks with EU diplomats

The Prime Minister of Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, has appealed to the EU to take his political and militant group, Hamas, off its terrorist register.

EU warns Turkey over 'threat' to Cyprus

The European Commission called on Ankara to refrain from doing "damage to good neighbourly relations", after Turkish vessels stop a rig from reaching a gas drilling zone.

News in Brief

  1. May to unveil EU departure strategy next week
  2. Pregnant workers may be dismissed, EU court rules
  3. Romanian minister demands anti-corruption prosecutor fired
  4. Luxembourg and Ireland pay highest minimum wages
  5. Freedom of expression under threat in Spain, warn MEPs
  6. Report: EU to increase sanctions on Myanmar
  7. Juncker 'worried' by Italian elections
  8. EU migration to UK at lowest since 2012

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU leaders to kick off post-Brexit budget debate
  2. Greek government's steady steps to exit bailout programme
  3. Frontex: Europe's new law enforcement agency?
  4. Poland and Greece broke EU environment laws, rules court
  5. Dutch MPs vote on ending 'Ukraine-type' referendums
  6. Corruption report: Hungary gets worse, Italy makes progress
  7. UK seeks flexible transition length after Brexit
  8. Commission defence of Barroso meeting leaves 'discrepancies'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformBeyond the Errors in the War on Terror: How to Fight Global Militarism - 22 February
  2. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  4. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  5. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  6. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  9. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  11. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  12. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission