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EU still shying away from demanding ceasefire in Gaza despite more than 11,000 civilian deaths

November 14, 2023 at 4:30 pm

Relatives of the victims, died in the Israeli airstrikes, mourn as they take the bodies from the morgue of Nasser Hospital for the funeral ceremony as the Israeli army attacks continue in Khan Yunis, Gaza on November 14, 2023 [Belal Khaled – Anadolu Agency]

The EU is still shying away from demanding a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip as relentless Israeli attacks on the enclave, which killed more than 11,000 civilians, including 5,000 children, approaches day 40, Anadolu Agency reports.

Top officials from the bloc initially expressed unconditional support for the Israeli attack and strongly condemned the Palestinian Resistance group, Hamas.

EU leaders, including European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, overlooked the civilian death toll and catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza and reiterated that Israel has right to self-defence.

The European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi’s remarks, 9 October, caused confusion when he said development aid and all findings for Palestinians would be reviewed.

Leyen’s 14 October visit to Israel, where she expressed unconditional support for Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, without mentioning the humanitarian situation in Gaza, led to criticism within the EU.

READ: EU Foreign Policy chief Borrell makes proposals for post-war Gaza

Diplomats from EU delegations across the world warned Leyen in a letter that the EU risks losing its reputation.

Meanwhile, more and more Europeans started to protest the EU’s policy regarding the Israeli-Palestine conflict.

The Union then started to put emphasis that Israel’s right to self-defence should be exercised in accordance with international law.

In an extraordinary leaders’ summit by EU Council President, Charles Michel, that coincided with Israel’s attack on a hospital on 17 October that killed more than 500 people, EU leaders avoided saying that Israeli attacks that violate international law should be stopped.

The EU was expected to request a ceasefire in the face of soaring civilian casualties in Gaza, but the 26-27 October leaders’ summit urged humanitarian pauses which would enable humanitarian aid to enter Gaza.

In parallel to the increasing death toll in Gaza, the EU has felt more pressure by the public demanding an immediate ceasefire.

Von der Leyen emphasised 8 November that civilians in Gaza should be protected after reiterating her support for Israel’s right to self-defence.

The bloc’s Foreign Policy chief, Josep Borrell, expressed grave concern 12 November for the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza, calling for “immediate pauses in hostilities and the establishment of humanitarian corridors.”

While the EU foreign ministers’ meeting Monday did not yield a concrete decision, Borrell said Gaza should be part of a future Palestinian State.

The Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip has continued for 39 straight days, with at least 11,240 Palestinians, including more than 7,700 women and children, killed. Thousands of buildings, including hospitals, mosques and churches have also been damaged or destroyed in the relentless attacks.

The Israeli death toll, meanwhile, is 1,200, according to official figures.

READ: Amnesty International urges EU leaders to call for immediate cease-fire in Gaza