‘Divided’ EU leaders call for Gaza aid corridors


BRUSSELS: EU leaders called for pauses in the violence unfolding in Gaza to get humanitarian aid into the besieged enclave after days of wrangling that highlighted divisions within the bloc over the conflagration in the Middle East.

In a declaration agreed at a summit in Brussels, the leaders of the Union’s 27 nations expressed the “gravest concern for the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza”.

They called for “continued, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access and aid to reach those in need through all necessary measures including humanitarian corridors and pauses for humanitarian needs”.

While EU leaders have strongly condemned Hamas’ attack, they have struggled to stick to the same message beyond that, with some stressing Israel’s right to self-defence and others emphasising concern about Palestinian civilians.

The leaders’ differences were still clear as they arrived for the summit.

“Israel is a democratic state guided by very humanitarian principles and so we can be certain that the Israeli army will respect the rules that arise from international law in everything it does,” said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Rights groups such as Human Rights Watch have also accused Israel of violating international humanitarian law.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo also warned Israel against starving Gaza.

“Israel has a right to take action and to prevent future attacks. But that is never an excuse for blocking a whole region, for blocking humanitarian aid. It cannot be an excuse to starve a population,” he said.__dawn.com