Israel is facing growing international pressure over its intention to launch an all-out military assault on the city of Rafah, in southern Gaza, in the wake of a ferocious hostage rescue operation that killed dozens of Palestinians.

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated the soldiers who mounted the dramatic rescue of two Israeli hostages in the city, where more than 1 million Palestinians have fled seeking shelter.

Josep Borrell, the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief, furiously rounded on the Israeli leader.

Responding to Netanyahu’s statement that refugees in Rafah would be evacuated before a major military offensive, Borrell said: “Where? To the moon? Where are they going to evacuate these people to?”

Borrell’s sentiments were echoed in more diplomatic language by David Cameron, the British Foreign Secretary, who said it was impossible to fight a war in a place housing people that had nowhere to go.