Sunday

16th May 2021

Letter

EU-Gaza mission not on the beach

  • War damage in Gaza (Photo: Amir Farshad Ebrahimi)

Your article 'EU-Gaza mission on the beach' contains inaccuracies and is far from reflecting the reality on the ground.

You say that "the Israeli had final say on which Palestinians were allowed to enter and which were not". This is entirely false. During the overall deployment of the mission, the Israeli authorities have not prevented any crossing of passengers neither by the use of cameras at the Rafah crossing point nor by requesting the Palestinians to detain passengers or "stop bags". The Palestinian authorities and the population of Gaza have always expressed their appreciation of the mission's work.

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You say that colonel Alain Faugeras, the head of Eubam-Rafah Mission, "currently resides at the beach resort of Dan Gardens". On the contrary, one of his first purposes when he was appointed in November 2008 was in fact to move the Eubam-Rafah Headquarters from the Dan Gardens Hotel in Ashkelon to another location in Ashkelon. This was done in May 2009, two and a half years ago. Colonel Faugeras himself never lived in the Dan Gardens Hotel and rents an apartment near the Eubam HQ as every other mission member.

On 26 May 2011, the Council of the EU extended the mandate of the Eubam-Rafah Mission until 31 December 2011, as it has done several times in the past, in order to maintain an operational capability in the region. The EU has consistently insisted on the need for a full implementation of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access. As third party mission, Eubam-Rafah is still present because it is invited to do so by the parties (Israel and the Palestinian Authority). The European Union has constantly tried to reduce the cost of the Eubam-Rafah presence either by downsizing the mission or reducing the cost of its HQ.

The EU is currently assessing the implications of the opening of the Rafah Crossing Point on a permanent basis last May, and following closely the implementation of the Palestinian reconciliation agreement in this regard. So far, none of the stakeholders has formally requested the EU to reactivate Eubam-Rafah, but Eubam-Rafah has a redeployment plan to increase rapidly the strength of the mission in case the political and security conditions would allow.

Michael Mann is a spokesperson for High Representative/Vice President Catherine Ashton

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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