The Israeli ambassador to the EU and NATO, Haim Regev, has urged the EU to convey a message to Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority to stay out of Israel’s fight in Gaza. The EU should warn Israel’s neighbours not to join the conflict, which flared up after Hamas, Islamist militants launched a massive rocket attack on Israel.
Israel retaliated by shelling Gaza, a crowded Palestinian enclave from where Hamas launched its land, air, and sea attack, stoking fears of a possible wider Middle East conflict. Regev emphasized the bloc’s leverage as one of the biggest donors in the region. EU foreign ministers are due to hold an emergency meeting in Muscat, Oman, where a meeting of the EU and Gulf Cooperation Council has already taken place.
The EU has strongly condemned the attack by Hamas, designated as a terrorist organisation by the EU and the United States, but has sent mixed messages over the future of its development aid to the Palestinians. Emergency humanitarian aid continues to flow to the Palestinians, but EU member states remain split over development aid for the Palestinians.
Israel has reported over 900 deaths from the worst attack in its 75-year history, with Gaza officials reporting 687 killed in reprisal bombardments. Israel’s top diplomat in Brussels has called for international assistance to rescue an estimated 100 hostages taken by Hamas.
Israel seeks international pressure to disable Hamas’ military capabilities, escalating regional fears of a conflagration due to looming Israeli ground incursion into Gaza. Israel’s top envoy, Regev, stated that the situation cannot be the same after what happens. Israel declared war immediately after the attack and warned citizens in the area of bombing. Israel’s top envoy cannot state whether Iran, a prominent backer of Hamas, is directly involved in the weekend attacks.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have been attending Hamas planning meetings in Beirut since August, including two accompanied by Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. The US is pressuring Israel to sign a normalization deal with Israel, marking its biggest diplomatic win in the region. However, Riyadh has resisted US pressure and linked the move to the creation of a Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, along with other demands. The potential impact of the war on regional relations remains uncertain.