During a meeting of foreign affairs ministers in Brussels on Monday, Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, condemned Hamas for using hospitals and civilians as shields. He also called on Israel to exercise maximum restraint. The European Union has stated that all civilians should be allowed to leave the combat zone and that humanitarian pauses must occur immediately.
The worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza is a severe concern for the EU. The EU supports the calls for an immediate ceasefire and establishing humanitarian corridors through increased capacity at border crossings and a dedicated maritime route. This will ensure that humanitarian aid can safely reach the people of Gaza.
The EU reiterates Israel’s right to self-defence under international law and humanitarian law, as outlined in the European Council conclusions of October 26.
The EU urges the continued, rapid, safe, and unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need through all necessary measures, including humanitarian corridors and pauses for humanitarian needs.
“In this regard, we welcome the results of the November 9 humanitarian conference held in Paris,” stated Josep Borrell on November 12.
The EU reiterated its call on Hamas for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.
“The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) must be granted access to the hostages. The EU condemns the use of hospitals and civilians as human shields by Hamas. Civilians must be allowed to leave the combat zone. These hostilities are severely impacting hospitals and taking a horrific toll on civilians and medical staff,” said Borrell in a Statement.
The EU has highlighted that international humanitarian law mandates the protection of hospitals, medical supplies, and civilians inside hospitals. It is crucial that hospitals receive immediate supplies of the most urgent medical items and that patients in urgent need of medical attention are safely evacuated.
In light of this, the EU urges Israel to exercise maximum restraint to ensure the safety and protection of civilians.
As per Hamas, all hospitals located in the North of Gaza are currently non-operational due to the lack of fuel, resulting in no electricity supply. The European Union and its member states will continue to work closely with international partners, the United Nations, other agencies, and countries in the region to ensure a sustained flow of assistance.
Borrell stated that the EU and its member states will also facilitate access to food, water, medical care, fuel, and shelter for the affected people.
Although Brussels officially requests humanitarian pauses to allow more aid into Gaza, there are still divisions at the European level. Some countries, such as Spain and Belgium, call for a ceasefire.