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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell expressed great concern over attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians, which he firmly condemned. — Reuters pic
BRUSSELS, Nov 1 — The European Union’s (EU) top diplomat Josep Borrell yesterday renewed calls for a pause in the Israel-Hamas conflict and condemned attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
After a series of calls with senior Arab officials, Borrell’s office said he had “expressed great concern over attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians, which he firmly condemned”.
Brussels has previously called for civilians on both sides of the conflict to be protected, for Hamas to release hostages without preconditions and for “humanitarian pauses” to allow aid into Gaza.
But — after calls with the Saudi, Jordanian and Egyptian foreign ministers and the secretary general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Hissein Brahim Taha — Borrell extended his concern to related events in the West Bank.
Israel has launched raids and air strikes on Gaza since October 7, when Hamas militants crossed from Gaza and attacked Israeli communities and military posts, killing around 1,400 people and taking 240 hostages.
Since then, Israel has responded with an unrelenting bombardment of Gaza, which the Hamas-run health ministry says has killed more than 8,500 people, nearly half of them children.
It has also stepped up operations in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
At least 122 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces or settlers in the West Bank since October 7, according to the Ramallah-based health ministry.
On Tuesday, the Israeli army demolished the West Bank home of exiled Hamas number two Saleh al-Aruri.
The Israeli military said forces entered the village of Arura, near Ramallah, and shot at people who were “hurling” rocks towards them during the demolition.
EU foreign affairs spokesman Peter Stano said the situation in the West Bank “could get out of control” and warned of “the risk of dangerous escalation of the conflict”.
“Israel has the duty to protect civilians in the West Bank from extremist settler violence, to hold perpetrators accountable and ensure that the IDF intervenes. It is a legal obligation that must be fulfilled,” he added in a statement.
As the violence raged, intensive diplomatic efforts to secure the release of more than 230 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, among them Israelis, foreigners and dual-nationals, appeared to be making some headway, with the Al-Qassam Brigades saying it would free some of the foreigners “in the next few days”. — AFP
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