Gaza destruction worse than in WWII Germany: EU’s Borrell


The situation in Gaza is “catastrophic, apocalyptic”, with destruction proportionally “even greater” than that which Germany experienced in World War II, the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said Monday.

Israel’s military response to Hamas’s October 7 attacks has resulted in “an incredible number of civilian casualties”, Borrell said after chairing a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

He said the EU was also “alarmed by the violence in the West Bank by extremist settlers” and condemned the Israeli government’s decision to approve 1,700 more housing units in Jerusalem, in what Brussels considers a violation of international law.

Hamas triggered the conflict with the deadliest-ever attack on Israel on October 7, in which it killed some 1,200 people, according to Israeli figures, and took around 240 hostages.

Israel has responded with a relentless military offensive that has reduced much of Gaza to rubble and killed at least 17,997 people, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

While noting that Hamas’s bloody attacks had cemented its place on the EU’s list of terrorist organisations, Borrell made clear he saw Israel’s military operation as disproportionate in terms of civilian deaths and damage to civilian property and infrastructure.

“The human suffering constitutes an unprecedented challenge to the international community,” Borrell said.

“Civilian casualties are between 60 and 70 percent of the overall deaths,” based on Gaza health ministry figures, and “85 percent of the population is internally displaced”.

“The destruction of buildings in Gaza… is more or less or even greater than the destruction suffered by the German cities during the Second World War,” taken proportionally, Borrell said.

He said he had presented a discussion paper to the EU foreign ministers looking at “imposing sanctions against extremist settlers in West Bank” who have stepped up attacks against Palestinian residents.

Borrell said he would soon make that a formal proposal, based on an initiative taken by the United States, which last week said it would refuse visas to extremist Israeli settlers.

He acknowledged, however, that there was as yet no unanimity among the 27 EU governments on the issue.

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