26 out of 27 EU members call for 'immediate humanitarian pause' in Gaza

Tue, 20 Feb 2024 7:17 GMT
EU also considers further sanctions against Israeli extremist settlers in West Bank.
26 out of 27 EU members call for 'immediate humanitarian pause' in Gaza

All but one of the European Union member states – 26 out of the 27 – have called for "an immediate humanitarian pause that would lead to a sustainable cease-fire" in Gaza, said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Monday. 

At a press conference in Brussels, Borrell said the 26 member states also reiterated their support for a previous statement urging the Israeli government to refrain from launching military operations against Rafah, a “last refuge” city in southern Gaza.

Borrell did not specify the dissenting EU country, but Hungary blocked a similar statement just days ago.

Some 1.5 million Palestinians previously displaced by Israel's offensive on Gaza are holed up in Rafah, seeking refuge from hostilities.

Israel's reported plans for an offensive on the city have sounded international alarm bells, with many countries urging restraint or cancelation of the operation.

The EU member states urged “an immediate humanitarian pause that would lead to a sustainable ceasefire to the unconditional release of hostages, and to the provision of humanitarian assistance” as well as for the Israeli government “not to take military action in Rafah because that would worsen an already catastrophic humanitarian situation and prevent urgently need provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance," Borrell explained.

Borrell also affirmed that the EU is looking into effective measures “against the extremist settlers who are indiscriminately attacking Palestinian civilians in the West Bank.”

Israel launched a deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip following a Hamas attack on Oct. 7. The ensuing Israeli bombardment has killed over 29,000 people and injured over 69,000 with mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

The Israeli war on Gaza has pushed 85% of the territory's population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.


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