EU’s Borrell Calls for ‘humanitarian pause’ to Israel-Hamas war

Trucks carrying relief material entered Gaza on October 21 and 22 but the United Nations reported that “hundreds” of trucks were still awaiting entry on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing

October 23, 2023 10:21 pm | Updated October 24, 2023 07:49 am IST - LONDON

European Union’s (EU) top diplomat Joseph Borrell called for a “humanitarian pause” to Israel-Hamas war to allow aid to enter the Gaza strip.

European Union’s (EU) top diplomat Joseph Borrell called for a “humanitarian pause” to Israel-Hamas war to allow aid to enter the Gaza strip. | Photo Credit: AFP

The European Union’s (EU) top diplomat Joseph Borrell on Monday (October 23) called for a “humanitarian pause” to allow aid to enter the Gaza strip, which is the latest theatre of war between Israel and Hamas. The call comes ahead of a EU summit later this week where leaders are reportedly planning to back such a pause in the fighting .

Trucks carrying relief material entered Gaza on Saturday and Sunday but the United Nations reported that “hundreds” of trucks were still awaiting entry on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing.

“...There are queues and queues of trucks waiting to enter,” Mr Borrell said in Luxembourg ahead of a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers.

A man unloads humanitarian aid on a convoy of lorries entering the Gaza Strip from Egypt via the Rafah border crossing on October 21, 2023.

A man unloads humanitarian aid on a convoy of lorries entering the Gaza Strip from Egypt via the Rafah border crossing on October 21, 2023. | Photo Credit: AFP

“They have to enter, and they have to bring the things that are badly needed, in particular, the fuel needed to make — I repeat — the desalinisation of water,” Mr. Borrell said. He, however, declined to assign blame for the delays at the border, only saying Egypt is ready to facilitate their movement.

He said the Ministers would discuss the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres’s call for a “humanitarian pause” which he said was needed, “even for giving back the hostages”. Israel has said that 222 individuals were being held captive by Hamas after the militant group conducted a series of attacks in Israeli territory on October 7, setting off the current round of conflict.

Writing in a blog post on Monday, Mr Borrell condemned Hamas’s attack on Israel but said Israel had to stick to the rules of war in its retaliation.

“Such norms apply regardless of the identity of the victim or perpetrator,” he wrote, adding that civilians in Gaza could not be held responsible, collectively, for Hamas’s actions.

Sunak Backs Relief Convoys to Gaza

U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday announced an additional £20 million ($24.5 million) in funding, or a total of £57 million ($69.7 million) this year so far. He welcomed the movement of the initial relief convoys across the border, but said this was “not enough”.

“ I recognise that the Palestinian people are suffering terribly. Too many lives have already been lost, and the humanitarian crisis is growing,” Mr. Sunak told the U.K. Parliament on Monday.

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