Brussels, May 6th, 2019 – The European Coalition for Israel welcomes the European Union’s firm statement of support for Israel’s right to defend its civilian population against the deadly rocket attacks from the Gaza strip over the weekend. Four Israeli civilians have been killed and many more injured since the attacks escalated on Saturday with over 600 rockets fired against civilian targets in southern Israel, causing major damage and destruction. In Gaza twenty-six people have lost their lives in Israeli retaliations, most of them believed to be Palestinian militants.
“The Palestinian terrorists have committed a double war crime by deliberately targeting Israeli civilians while at the same time hiding within their own civilian population and firing rockets from schools, hospitals and mosques”, ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell said on Monday morning.
In a statement over the weekend, EU High Representative for Security Policy and Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini said that “the indiscriminate rocket attacks from Palestinian militants in Gaza must stop immediately”, reiterating the EU’s fundamental commitment to the security of Israel. She went on to express condolences “to the families of all the victims and to the Israeli people”, and wished a speedy recovery to the wounded.
While the statement was made on behalf of all the 28 member states, several governments, such as Austria, Poland, Czech Republic and Estonia, issued their own statements of support for Israel. Other member states, such as Sweden and Ireland, were more reserved.
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström expressed alarm at the escalation in southern Israel, lamented the “tragic loss of lives”, and invoked the urgent need to protect civilians’ lives. She stopped short of explicitly condemning the Palestinian rocket fire on Israel.
“As a self-proclaimed humanitarian super-power, we expect the government of Sweden to protect humanitarian law in armed conflicts and condemn the Palestinian use of their own civilians as human shields”, Sandell commented.
He added: “In a day and age when terrorist groups, similar to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, pose an increasing threat to civilian lives in Europe, it is important that we stand united against these destructive forces.”
While there has been no official ceasefire announcement from either side, the intense fighting over the past two days appeared to have come to a sudden halt early this morning and residents on both sides are going back to their daily routines.
In a separate statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clarified that “the campaign is not over, but requires patience and deliberation”. “We are preparing to continue”, he added.