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France - Middle East

France proposes EU take over control of Israel-Gaza border crossings

A Palestinian on the site of a home destroyed by Israeli bombardment Wednesday
A Palestinian on the site of a home destroyed by Israeli bombardment Wednesday Reuters/Mohammed Salem

France has proposed that European Union teams take over the running of border crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip in a bid to encourage a truce in the escalating conflict that has seen 205 Palestinians killed and 1,500 injured.

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The proposal to send customs and security personnel to control the crossings has already won the support of Egypt and other Arab countries, French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius told France Culture radio on Wednesday.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

The move would be under the auspices of European Union Border Assistance Mission (Eubam), which sent a team to work at the Rafah crossing between the strip and Israel in 2005 but suspended the operation in 2007 when the Islamist party Hamas was elected to run the area
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“The Arab countries have given their support and then we need to get the agreement of the [UN] Security Council,” Fabius said, adding that a ceasefire must be established rapidly to prepare for a truce.

“If we only rely on the good will of the two sides we’re likely to have to wait an indefinite period,” he commented.

Hamas this week rejected a ceasefire unilaterally declared by Israel, which itself last week rejected a Hamas ceasefire offer.

Hamas insists that the blockade of the strip be lifted and prisoners released after the last Israeli offensive in 2009 but rearrested since the offensive began be freed.

Israel on Tuesday evening told 100,000 people living in the north of the Gaza Strip to leave their homes because its offensive was set to escalate.

On Wednesday morning 205 Palestinians were reported to have been killed and 1,500 injured.

An Israeli from a West Bank settlement, Dror Hanin, was killed by a rocket launched from Gaza on Tuesday evening when he went to distribute food to soldiers near the border.
 

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