EU condemn Hamas use of hospitals and civilians as 'human shields'

Foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also called for an 'immediate pauses in hostilities and the establishment of humanitarian corridors'


An aerial view shows the compound of Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on November 7, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Bashar TALEB / AFP) (Photo by BASHAR TALEB/AFP via Getty Images)

(JNS) The European Union's foreign policy chief has condemned Hamas for using "hospitals and civilians as human shields" in Gaza.

Josep Borrell, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, also called for “immediate pauses in hostilities and the establishment of humanitarian corridors” for Gaza’s civilian population.

“The EU is gravely concerned about the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” a statement from his office said. 

It went on to urge “increased capacity at border crossings” and a “dedicated maritime route” for Gaza aid.

The statement also reiterated Israel’s right to self-defence, called on Hamas to immediately and unconditionally release the hostages it seized on October 7 and demanded that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) be granted access to them.

“Hospitals must also be supplied immediately with the most urgent medical supplies and patients that require urgent medical care need to be evacuated safely,” said the statement. “In this context, we urge Israel to exercise maximum restraint to ensure the protection of civilians.”

“The EU and its member states will continue to work closely with international partners, the UN and other agencies as well as countries in the region to provide a sustained flow of assistance and facilitate access to food, water, medical care, fuel and shelter,” it concluded.

In a similar statement last week, Borrell told EU diplomats in Brussels that a humanitarian pause “counterbalanced” by Red Cross access to hostages “as a first step to their release” should be worked towards.

Last month, Borrell was criticised for appearing to call for a ceasefire while disregarding the agreed-upon wording of an EU statement that took greater account of Israel’s position.

Borrell became persona non grata in Israel in March, when Israeli officials signalled that they would refuse to meet with him if he came for a visit following his remarks equating Palestinian terrorism with Israeli military operations.

Borrell is a long-time critic of Israeli policy in the West Bank.

It comes after Israeli officials said they believed the headquarters of Hamas was sited in bunkers under Al Shifa hospital. Hamas rejects the claim.

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