In the midst of the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has drawn a stark comparison, stating that the destruction in Gaza due to Israeli bombings is proportionally “even greater” than what Germany experienced during World War II. The comments came as EU foreign ministers discussed potential responses to the crisis triggered by Hamas’s attack on Israel from Gaza on October 7.
Borrell, emphasizing the dire situation in Gaza, described it as “catastrophic” and “apocalyptic.” He expressed concern not only about the cross-border assault and the subsequent conflict but also about the escalating violence against Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
In response to the violence, Borrell announced plans to propose sanctions against Jewish settlers responsible for attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank. He, along with the foreign ministers of France, Germany, and Italy, supports a special sanctions program targeting Hamas. However, he stressed the need to address violent actions by Israeli settlers, stating, “The time has come to move from words to actions.”
According to UN figures, settler attacks have more than doubled since the Hamas attack and Israel’s offensive in Gaza. Borrell acknowledged that unanimous support from EU ministers is crucial for the proposed sanctions to pass, but he had not submitted a formal proposal at the time of his statement.
If approved, the sanctions would target individuals involved in attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank, with potential measures including travel bans to the EU. Achieving unanimity may prove challenging, with some EU countries, such as Austria, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, known for their close ties to Israel.
While Borrell did not outline specific sanctions, the EU’s move would likely face challenges, and its effectiveness would depend on enforcement across the bloc’s border-free Schengen zone. The United States’ recent decision to impose visa bans on individuals involved in violence in the West Bank might influence EU countries to consider similar actions.