EU wants ‘more aid, more quickly’ for Gaza

BRUSSELS — The EU’s top diplomat is calling for more aid deliveries to Gaza, and is considering a humanitarian ceasefire.

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Josep Borrell called on Monday for “more aid, more quickly” for the Gaza Strip, besieged by the Israeli army, stressing that the question of a humanitarian ceasefire would be debated by the 27 Member States.

“What is important? More aid, more quickly”, he insisted, stressing that the few dozen lorries that had passed from Egypt to Gaza were “insufficient”.

“Personally, I think that a humanitarian pause is necessary to allow humanitarian aid to be distributed”, he declared on his arrival in Luxembourg for a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

According to Borrell, this option, also called for by UN boss Antonio Guterres, will be on the agenda for discussions in Luxembourg as well as in Brussels, where the leaders of the EU-27 are due to meet for a summit on Thursday and Friday.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky stressed how difficult he felt this objective would be to achieve at this stage because of the attitude of Hamas.

“There is a terrorist organisation that controls Gaza, that sends rockets every day, that has carried out a barbaric attack on Israeli territory”, he said. “The question is therefore how such a ceasefire could be put in place; it must apply to both sides”, he added.

“We will not be able to stem the humanitarian catastrophe if the terrorism in Gaza continues in this way”, echoed the head of German diplomacy, Annalena Baerbock.

“It is essential to fight terrorism (…) and at the same time everything must be done to alleviate the incredible suffering of the two million Gazans. It’s squaring the circle. But we must square the circle together”, she continued.

On the ground, as a second convoy of trucks entered the Hamas-ruled territory on Sunday, US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “affirmed that there will now be a continuous flow of this crucial assistance into Gaza”, according to a White House statement.

On Saturday, at a “Peace Summit” in Cairo, Antonio Guterres called for “action now to end the nightmare”, calling for a “humanitarian ceasefire”.

“The people of Gaza need much more. Massive deliveries of aid are necessary”, the UN secretary-general hammered home, despite the fact that only a few dozen lorries had passed from Egypt to Gaza — a figure that was totally insufficient for the UN, which was calling for 100 lorries a day to reach the 2.4 million people of Gaza.

Israel’s military spokesman says his country is stepping up attacks on Gaza, amid growing expectations that a ground offensive into the enclave could begin soon.

It comes as more aid begins to arrive in Gaza to help address the spiraling humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where half the territory’s 2.3 million people have fled their homes.

Israeli warplanes struck targets across Gaza and two airports in Syria on Sunday, as well as a mosque in the occupied West Bank allegedly used by militants. According to a spokesperson, “dozens” of Hamas fighters were killed.

Hamas’ health ministry said the deadliest Israeli raids took place in Deir al-Balah, where 80 people including women and children died and several buildings were destroyed. Raids also targeted Khan Younes and Rafah in the south of Gaza.

Israeli authorities said late Sunday they had allowed a second batch of aid into Gaza at the request of the United States. COGAT, the Israeli defense body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs, said the aid included water, food and medical supplies, and that everything was inspected by Israel before it was brought into Gaza.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees confirmed the arrival of 14 trucks but Israel has so far not allowed any fuel to enter Gaza.

Relief workers said far more aid was, and the UN’s humanitarian agency said Saturday’s convoy carried about 4% of an average day’s imports before the war and “a fraction of what is needed after 13 days of complete siege.”

The Israeli military said the humanitarian situation was “under control,” even as the United Nations called for 100 trucks a day to enter. — Euronews