The situation in the EU’s Southern Neighbourhood has become more complex and dangerous, when on October 7, 2023, massive terrorist attacks by Hamas deep into Israel’s territory caused over 1,400 deaths (including babies and children), wounded more than 5,000 people and took 239 hostages. Israel’s response has been very harsh, cutting the supply of water, electricity, and fuel in Gaza, heavily bombarding many parts of the Strip, and starting a ground operation with the intention of destroying Hamas’ capabilities. The “collateral damage” is huge: so far more than 8,000 Gazans have been killed (including many children), and more than 21,000 have been wounded. The Israeli Army has compelled hundreds of thousands of residents in the northern part of Gaza to move south, to facilitate military operations. UNICEF and other humanitarian organizations warn that the situation in the heavy populated territory is catastrophic and could result in many more deaths if there is no restoration of fuel and electricity, and an increase of humanitarian aid soon. So far, all international calls for a ceasefire have been ignored.
This new phase of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has interrupted the process of normalization of relations between Israel and several Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, within the so-called “Abraham Accords”. There is a risk that the armed confrontation spreads to other countries in the region, including Lebanon and Iran. The role and influence of the EU is very limited, as it is too divided on the matter.