EU calls on Gaza to disarm

Shlomo Cesana, Eli Leon, Daniel Siryoti, Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff

[..] The European Union issued a statement on Tuesday condemning Hamas rocket fire on Israel and calling on all Gaza terrorist organizations to disarm.

The statement, released following a meeting in Brussels and signed by 28 foreign ministers, condemns “the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel by Hamas and militant groups in the Gaza Strip, directly harming civilians,” and describes the firings as “criminal and unjustifiable acts.”

The EU further called on Hamas to end the rocket fire immediately, and stressed that “all terrorist groups in Gaza must disarm. The EU strongly condemns calls on the civilian population of Gaza to provide themselves as human shields.”

At a press conference following the meeting, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said all the foreign ministers recognized “Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself against any attacks.” But she added that Israel’s military operation “must be proportionate and in line with international humanitarian law.”

The EU ministers called for an immediate cease-fire and a return to the terms agreed upon following Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012.

They also addressed the civilian deaths, “among them many women and children,” in Gaza.

“The EU is particularly appalled by the human cost of the Israeli military operation in Shujaiyya, and is deeply concerned at the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation,” the statement read.

Diplomatic officials in Jerusalem were encouraged by the unexpected EU statement. The Prime Minister’s Office did not comment on the statement, but the Foreign Ministry praised it at length in a statement.

“The European Union reinforces its designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization when it strongly condemns the indiscriminate firing of rockets on a civilian population and Hamas’ use of civilians as human shields,” the statement read.

“The Foreign Ministry likewise praises the European Union’s call for the disarmament of the terror organizations in the Gaza Strip of their weapons and the demilitarization of Gaza. These EU statements are completely in line with the perception that guides Israel in the fight against terrorism and they open the door for cooperation in implementing common principles for restoring peace and security.”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the EU statement shows that “the free world is united against Hamas terror,” and that Israel has the right to defend itself. He also thanked the foreign ministers for their effective work leading up to the statement.

Earlier on Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv. In an uncharacteristic show of support for Israel, Ban said, “It is always a pleasure to visit, for me, Israel, but this time I am standing with a very heavy, heavy heart.

“As we speak, rockets from Hamas and Islamic Jihad continue to be fired on Israel. I have just seen myself with the prime minister all kinds of rockets fired by Hamas on to the heads of all of these people and the neighborhoods where many people are living. This is quite shocking. And I have seen all the photos and videos and evidence myself.

“The United Nations position is clear: We condemn strongly the rocket attacks. These must stop immediately. We condemn the use of civilian sites — schools, hospitals and other civilian facilities — for military purposes.

“No country would accept rockets raining down on its territory — and all countries and parties have an international obligation to protect civilians. [..]

July 23, 2014 | 1 Comment »

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  1. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the EU statement shows that “the free world is united against Hamas terror,” and that Israel has the right to defend itself. He also thanked the foreign ministers for their effective work leading up to the statement.

    Sigh….
    Speechless.
    No comment necessary.
    🙁