Thursday

23rd Nov 2017

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.

Opinion

The EU's half-hearted Ostpolitik

If, as the EU claims, the Eastern Partnership summit is not a format for conflict resolution, where else will the security issues that hold the region back be resolved?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Ministers Pledge to Work More Closely at Nordic and EU Level
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaLaunch of Honorary Council on the Occasion of the Eastern Partnership Summit and CEPA
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Leaders Should Press Azerbaijan President to End the Detention of Critics
  4. CECEKey Stakeholders to Jointly Tackle the Skills Issue in the Construction Sector
  5. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  6. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  7. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  8. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  10. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  11. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  12. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!

Latest News

  1. EU awaits UK proposals in final push for Brexit breakthrough
  2. Berlin risks being 'culprit' for stalling EU, warns Green MEP
  3. Eastern partners, eastern problems
  4. Germany's Schulz under pressure to enter coalition talks
  5. LuxLeaks trial re-opens debate on whistleblowers' protection
  6. Wilders says Russia is 'no enemy' ahead of Moscow visit
  7. EU must put Sudan under microscope at Africa summit
  8. Mali blames West for chaos in Libya

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  2. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  3. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  4. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  6. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  7. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  8. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  10. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  11. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable Growth the Nordic Way: Climate Solutions for a Sustainable Future