”It reminded me when I was a young boy and I served in a kibbutz near Be’er Sheva. When I entered in the ravaged rooms of the kibbutz [Be’eri], I had a feeling I felt more than 40 years ago,’’ Borrell said.
During a press conference alongside Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen after the tour of the kibbutz, Josep Borrell called Israel ‘’not to be consumed by rage.’’
’I do not need a paper to express it: it is a message of solidarity. It is a message of support. It is a message of saying to Israel that the European Union is with you, supporting you in your right to self] defence in accordance with humanitarian and international law.’’
With this statement, EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell started a meeting on Thursday with Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who is also Vice-President of the European Commission, is on a tour in the Middle East. After Israel, he is to travel to , Josep Borrell, will travel to the Palestinian Territories, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan.
During his visit in Israel, the first by Borrell since his appointment four years ago, he went to kibbutz Be’eri where 120 people have been butchered during the Hamas October 7 massacre.
‘’There is a sentence in Spanish that says: “Los ojos que no ven, el corazón que no siente” – if the eyes do not see, the heart does not feel. And I saw. I see.,’’ he said.
‘’And it reminded me when I was a young boy and I served in a kibbutz near Be’er Sheva. When I entered in the ravaged rooms of the kibbutz [Be’eri], I had a feeling I felt more than 40 years ago,’’ Borrell added.
The EU foreign affairs chief had also a meeting with the families of the hostages detained in Gaza by Hamas.
‘’It has been a difficult meeting, a heart-breaking meeting. I am coming from a country that had been fighting against terrorism that were kidnapping people – ETA. They were kidnapping people, and they were killing them. I know personally what does it mean for the families to have one of your loved ones in the incertitude. Where is he? And they asked us to do whatever we can in order to free them – and that is what I promised,’’ he said.
‘’We cannot bring back to life the people who have been killed, but we can make free the people that have been taken hostages. On that, we are working.’’
He told the Israeli President that after watching the horrific events that happened near Gaza, ‘’I also have to express my concern about the situation in Gaza itself.’’
‘’Today, the United Nations [Security Council] has voted a resolution which I think is important because it is asking to give more support to the people who are suffering in Gaza. They are also the victims of Hamas. I am shocked about the human suffering of the Israeli people, but I am also concerned by the suffering of the people in Gaza,’’ he said.
He asked tne president ‘’to do your utmost in order to decrease the level of suffering of the civilians. Because I think that the international community – I include the European Union – has committed a political and moral fault, not taking enough into consideration the problem, the peace in Palestine and Israel. And maybe these tragic circumstances will bring an occasion to re-engage with that – because only peace will bring to Israel full security.’’
‘’This is something that we have to do, and I am saying that as a friend of Israel,’’ Borrell said./
‘’We have to make peace – not only between Israel and the Arab countries, but between Israel and Palestine,’’ he added.
Noting that he was a close friend of Shimon Peres, Borrell quoted the former President and Prime Minister who told him one day: “War is not unavoidable. What is unavoidable is peace. Unhappily, peace is not coming – not yet,’’
‘’This is the commitment that I take with me from the European Union: to support you, to support you to defend yourself, to support you in respecting the laws of war and to support you in bringing peace,’’ Borrell concluded.
During a press conference alongside Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen after the tour of kibbutz Be’eri, called Israel ‘’not to be consumed by rage.’’
“Minister, allow me to say something that does not come from this piece of paper but from the bottom of my heart,” said Borrell.
“I understand your fears and pain. I understand your rage. I understand the fears and pain of the people that have been attacked, slaughtered, kidnapped. But let me ask you not to be consumed by rage,” he said.
Borrell touched upon the situation in the Gaza Strip, where he claimed that “innocent civilians, including thousands of children, have died in the past weeks.”
“One horror does not justify another. … I think that is what the best friends of Israel can tell you,” declared the E.U. foreign policy chief.
The Gaza Health Ministry, which is controlled by Hamas, does not distinguish between terrorists and civilian deaths. Both Israel and the United States have disputed the casualty figures coming out of Gaza.
Speaking in Hebrew at the press conference with Borrell, Cohen said that Israel would continue its operation against Hamas until the terrorist organization is destroyed and the approximately 240 hostages held in Gaza are freed.
“Today, I toured Kibbutz Be’eri with the minister of foreign affairs of the European Union,” Cohen wrote in a post on X, adding that “everyone who comes and hears the horror stories understands the need to eliminate Hamas.”
According to Cohen, Borrell during the visit expressed Brussels’s support for “the defeat of Hamas and Israel’s right to defend itself.”
In March, Israeli officials announced a formal boycott of Borrell over comments he made equating Palestinian terrorist attacks with operations undertaken by the Israel Defense Forces.
The EU official had written that “Israeli military operations frequently cause civilian Palestinian deaths, often without effective accountability; illegal settlements are expanding on occupied land; and the delicate status quo concerning Holy Sites is eroding.”
Cohen criticized the remarks at the time, telling Borrell, “There is no room for comparison or balancing between the victims of terrorism on the Israeli side and the Palestinian terrorists supported by the Palestinian Authority.”
However, Cohen patched up Israel’s relationship with the European Union two months later, following a meeting in Brussels. After a two-and-half-hour conversation with Borrell, Cohen boasted that “Israel is opening a new page in its relations with the E.U.”
Borrell has repeatedly called for a “humanitarian pause” in Israel’s ongoing operation against Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
“I think that a humanitarian pause counterbalanced by access to hostages with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as a first step to their release is an initiative on which we should work,” Borrell told fellow E.U. diplomats on Nov. 6, AFP reported.
“Call it a truce, window, whatever, but we need that violence recedes and that international humanitarian law is being respected,” he added.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is scheduled to visit Egypt and Jordan on Saturday, Brussels announced this week.
Von der Leyen will meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo before traveling to the Egypt–Gaza border to welcome the arrival of European aid. She will then meet with Jordanian King Abdullah II in Amman.
All Eu institutions leaders have visited Israel since the October 7 massacre by Hamas in Israel which led to Israel’s waer against the terrorist group in Gaza, except for European Council President, Belgian Charles Michel.