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Gaza world’s biggest ‘open-air graveyard’: EU foreign policy chief

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Monday, 18 March, 2024, 20:24
Gaza world’s biggest ‘open-air graveyard’: EU foreign policy chief

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Monday that Israel’s military campaign in Gaza had turned the territory into the world’s biggest “open-air graveyard.”

“Gaza was before the war the greatest open-air prison. Today it’s the greatest open-air graveyard,” Borrell said at a meeting of EU ministers in Brussels.

“It’s a graveyard for tens of thousands of people and also a graveyard for many of the most important principles of humanitarian law.”

Borrell on Monday also reiterated his accusation that Israel was using famine as a “weapon of war” by not allowing aid trucks into Gaza.

“Israel is provoking famine,” he told a humanitarian conference.

The bloodiest ever Gaza war broke out after Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on October 7 that resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

The militants also seized about 250 hostages, of whom Israel believes 130 remain in Gaza, including 33 who are presumed dead.

Israel, vowing to destroy Hamas and free the captives, has carried out a relentless bombing campaign and ground offensive that Gaza’s health ministry says has killed at least 31,726 people, most of them women and children.

The 27-nation EU has struggled to come up with a united response to the war in Gaza as some members firmly back Israel and others are more pro-Palestinian.

EU ministers were set to discuss a proposal by Ireland and Spain to suspend a cooperation agreement with Israel, but that move was unlikely to get the support of all 27 countries.

The bloc was however expected to agree on sanctions both against Hamas for sexual violence on October 7 and against violent Israeli settlers in the West Bank for attacking Palestinians.

Britain and the United States have already imposed sanctions targeting a small number of “extremist” settlers.

Israeli foreign minister Israel Katz hit back and urged Borrell to “stop attacking Israel and recognize our right to self-defense against Hamas’ crimes.”