President of France Emmanuel Macron said on Friday that talks were being held within the EU with Cyprus and Greece to build up a “humanitarian coalition” regarding Gaza.
Speaking after a European Union summit in Brussels, Macron said: “Cyprus could serve as a base for humanitarian operations.”
In a meeting of the bloc’s 27 governments, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that common ground regarding the current crisis in the Middle East was reached.
This common ground “recognizes Israel’s right to self-defense within the limits set by International Law, but it also expresses its deep concern for the humanitarian situation prevailing in Gaza today.”
Moreover, he said, “the decision for a ceasefire for humanitarian needs conveys the message that Israel should seriously consider the situation in Gaza and allow humanitarian aid to enter.”
What has become “totally clear since the tragic invasion of Israel by the terrorist Hamas, is that Israel’s security problem will not be addressed in security terms alone,” but a political solution and “the only definitive political resolution can be a two-state solution, allowing the citizens of Israel and the Palestinians to live in peace, each in their own state,” Mitsotakis underlined.
EU proposal for a peace conference on Gaza
Meanwhile, EU leaders accepted the Spanish proposal to hold a peace conference in about six months on the conflict between Israel and Hamas, Spain’s acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said.
Spain had pressed for the EU to demand an immediate ceasefire, but the language was opposed by some countries, Sanchez told a news conference in Brussels.
He said that instead, the member states agreed to call for “humanitarian pauses” and the opening of aid corridors for the Gaza civilians, as a way to reach a consensus.
Israel intensifies military campaign in Gaza
EU’s diplomatic efforts to prevent further bloodshed in Gaza come as Israel is intensifying its military campaign.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has said about 100 jets have struck 150 underground Hamas targets in Gaza in the heaviest aerial bombardment of the Gaza war so far, as Palestinian residents of Gaza reported clashes with Israeli armored vehicles and infantry overnight in three locations in the Gaza Strip.
With internet and mobile services almost entirely cut off in Gaza from Friday evening, information about the situation in the Hamas-ruled coastal strip of 2.3 million people was scant.
However, footage from media camera positions just outside Gaza in Israel and Egypt showed a night of endless airstrikes and artillery coloring the night sky orange.
The IDF added that it had killed Asem Abu Rakaba, believed to be the head of Hamas’s aerial array that launched paragliders in the October 7 attack on Israel.
As of Friday night, more than 7,300 people had been killed in Israeli air strikes, according to Palestinian officials. More than 1,400 people were killed in Israel by Hamas militants in the raid on October 7, according to the government, with 222 being held hostage.