The EU must stand by its previous statements and demand an immediate end to the Israeli assault on Rafah

On 7 May the Israeli government announced its ground offensive of the Rafah governorate in the Southern Gaza Strip, despite significant international pressure against the move. Members of the US, EU and several EU member states governments agreed unanimously that any attack on Rafah would be unacceptable and result in worsening an already severe humanitarian crisis.  

At present Rafah shelters 1.3 million Palestinians, the majority internally displaced from their homes by the Israeli attack, making Rafah one of the most densely populated areas in the world.  Israeli bombardments on Rafah between the 5th and 6th of May killed 28 Palestinians, of which 11 were children and eight were women, adding to the more than 34.700 Palestinians killed since the beginning of the war. Any further attacks will result in severe civilian casualties, the majority of which will be women and children.  

Furthermore, Israel has also closed the main entry points of humanitarian aid at Rafah and Kerem Shalom border crossings, enhancing the existing food, water and fuel shortage in the Strip. As stated by UN officials, Northern Gaza has already entered a state of “full-blown famine”, and the lack of access to aid threatens to create a man-made famine in Southern Gaza.  

In short, despite Israeli orders for Palestinians to evacuate to so-called “safe areas”, nowhere in the Gaza Strip is truly safe, with all civilians risking death and injuries during the Israeli ground invasion. The EU and its member states must stand by its commitment to protect civilian life and humanitarian aid and ensure that its condemnation of the offensive goes beyond just words.  

The EU and its member states must implement the ICJ’s Provisional Measures to stop any potential genocidal act against Palestinians, which would include implementing two-sided weapons trade bans with Israel, to ensure that no war material is used to commit internationally criminal acts in Rafah. They must support the International Criminal Court, including any future decision to ensure accountability for perpetrators of war crimes in Gaza, such as in the issuing of arrest orders against Israeli officials. Furthermore, they must suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement due to the clear violation of international Human Rights norms by the government of Israel. Finally, they must call for an immediate ceasefire, an end to the blockade, and the distribution of humanitarian aid to all regions of Gaza to stop a humanitarian catastrophe.