EU Reiterates Call for Immediate Humanitarian Pause in Gaza Strip and Release of Hostages

Monday, 13 November 2023

The European Union has reiterated its call for an immediate pause in the fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip and also called on Hamas to release hostages.

On behalf of the EU, Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, expressed "grave concern" about the deepening humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. 

"The EU joins calls for immediate pauses in hostilities and the establishment of humanitarian corridors, including through increased capacity at border crossings and through a dedicated maritime route, so that humanitarian aid can safely reach the population of Gaza," Borrell said. 

Josep Borrell recalled that the EU recognises Israel's full right to defend itself within international law and international humanitarian law. 

"The EU reiterates its call on Hamas for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. It is crucial that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is granted access to the hostages. 

The EU condemns the use of hospitals and civilians as human shields by Hamas. These hostilities are severely impacting hospitals and taking a horrific toll on civilians and medical staff," the EU chief diplomat stressed, while calling on Israel to "take maximum care" to prevent civilian casualties. 

Borrell added that the EU will continue to cooperate with international partners, countries in the region and the UN to ensure a constant flow of humanitarian aid for residents of the Gaza Strip.

Criticism of Israel for its actions in Gaza is growing among EU countries. Belgium in particular has called for sanctions against Israel for excessive casualties among the Palestinian civilian population. 

On 9 November, the White House announced an agreement with Israel to observe pauses in battles in Gaza.

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