European leaders condemn killing of civilians in Gaza Hospital attack

The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell called for culpability for the crime to be established and accountability for the violence

October 18, 2023 05:52 pm | Updated 07:49 pm IST - LONDON

People inspect the area of Al-Ahli hospital on October 18, 2023, where hundreds of Palestinians were killed following an air strike that Israeli and Palestinian officials have blamed on each other.

People inspect the area of Al-Ahli hospital on October 18, 2023, where hundreds of Palestinians were killed following an air strike that Israeli and Palestinian officials have blamed on each other. | Photo Credit: Reuters

European leaders reacted to the death of hundreds of civilians at the Al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza on Tuesday evening. Israel has claimed a misfired missile by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad caused the destruction while militant group Hamas, which governs the Gaza strip, has blamed an Israeli air strike for the event.

Speaking at the House of Commons on Wednesday, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the whole House was shocked by the scenes from the hospital.

Israel-Hamas war updates — October 18, 2023

“Any loss of innocent life is a dreadful tragedy,” Mr Sunak said. British intelligence was independently analysing the information around the explosion, Mr Sunak said, adding that he was not in a position to say anything further at this point. The U.K. was working with its allies and was trying to get humanitarian aid into Gaza, according to Mr Sunak

European politicians were careful about assigning blame for Tuesday’s blast.

“Last night, too many jumped to conclusions around the tragic loss of life at Al Ahli hospital,” U.K. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly wrote on X.

“Getting this wrong would put even more lives at risk,” he said, urging people to stay calm and await the facts. On Tuesday night he had said that the protection of civilian lives must be the top priority and that the U.K. and its allies would “find out” what had happened.

Mr Cleverly’s tweet on Wednesday morning came shortly after news broke that U.S. President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel was not responsible for the attack.

“Based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you,” Mr Biden said during a visit to Tel Aviv on Wednesday.

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“France condemns the attack on the Al-Ahli Arabi hospital in Gaza which caused so many Palestinian victims,” French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on X (formerly, Twitter), late on Tuesday night. Mr. Macron said that nothing justified an attack on a hospital or on civilians and called for clarity around the circumstances of the attack.

The French President urged access to Gaza for delivering humanitarian aid. The strip of land has been sealed off by Israel in the north and Egypt in the south.

The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, also called for culpability for the crime to be established and accountability for the violence.

“Once again, innocent civilians pay the highest price,” he said.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he was shocked by the images from the hospital. ”Our hearts are with the families of the victims. It is important that all facts of this incident are disclosed very accurately,” he wrote in Arabic on X.

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