December 10, 2023

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War on Hamas is ‘war of the free world’: Israeli FM

BRUSSELS: Israel’s war to wipe out Hamas in Gaza is “the war of the free world”, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen told EU lawmakers in Brussels on Wednesday.
Cohen also said Israel had been attacked not only by Hamas but by other militias in the region that are supported by Iran, which he called “the world number one financer of terror”.
He was speaking alongside several Israelis whose relatives were taken hostage by Hamas when its militants stormed communities near Gaza on October 7.
After calling Hamas militants “monsters” and pleading for international help to secure the release of the more than 240 hostages being held — including, he said, more than 30 children — Cohen left to speak with European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.
Von der Leyen later posted on X, formerly Twitter, that she had assured Cohen of the EU’s “full solidarity in the wake of Hamas’ terror attack of 7/10″.
She repeated a call for Hamas to release its hostages, and said the bloc remains “focused on improving the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Gaza”.
Since October 7, the Israeli military has been bombarding Gaza in retaliation for the Hamas attack that killed more than 1,400 people in Israel, most of them civilians, according to Israeli authorities.
The Hamas-run health ministry says the death toll in Gaza has surpassed 10,500 people, mainly civilians and thousands of them children.
During his emotional speech to MEPs, Cohen showed two minutes of brutal images said to be from Hamas videos filmed during the October 7 attack, overlaid with piano music.
“The 7th of October was the worst day of the state of Israel and for the Jewish people since the Holocaust,” he said.
The foreign minister justified Israel’s intense bombardment of Gaza as necessary to root out Hamas “terrorism”.
“This is not just the war of the state of Israel. This is the war of the free world,” he said.
“We need to win this war in order to ensure that the West will not be next since terrorism, it’s like a cancer.”
Israel has said the goal of its military operation in Gaza is to eradicate Hamas.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that, when the war is over, Israel would assume “overall security” of Gaza.
Cohen said Hamas had used international financial aid to build tunnels and rocket factories while leaving Palestinians “starving”.
He said Iran was behind Hamas and other militias targeting Israel.
“We are not attacked only by the Hamas and by the Islamic Jihad. We are also attacked by the Hezbollah in our northern border and also by the Huthis in Yemen,” Cohen said.
“There is one thing that connects them: Iran. Iran is the world number one financer of terror,” he said, accusing Tehran of trying to “stop the normalisation and the peace process that took place in the last three years”.
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