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EU Council head reiterates call for urgent humanitarian action, cease-fire in Gaza

"We call for an immediate cease-fire, the unconditional release of all hostages, and the provision of humanitarian assistance," European Council President Charles Michel said on Tuesday.

Published June 11,2024
(File Photo)

European Council President Charles Michel on Tuesday called for urgent humanitarian action in the Gaza Strip in an international conference held in Jordan.

"We have condemned Hamas' brutal attack against the people of Israel last October and also condemned the loss of each civilian life and the horrendous suffering and humanitarian disaster in Gaza," Michel told other leaders at the conference, called Call for Action: Urgent Humanitarian Response for Gaza.

Outlining the EU's three key priorities concerning Gaza - ending the war, ensuring the protection of civilians, and providing humanitarian aid, he said every day without a cease-fire is "another day of blood and death."

"We call for an immediate cease-fire, the unconditional release of all hostages, and the provision of humanitarian assistance," he said.

Highlighting the magnitude of the situation in Gaza, Michel said 17,000 children had been separated from their families since Oct. 7 last year.

"Many are orphans, many have had limbs amputated, often without proper medical condition," he added.

On the EU's efforts to assist civilians in Gaza, he said the bloc and its member states have provided nearly €800 million ($857.8 million) in humanitarian aid for Palestinians, and "coordinated the delivery of over 2,500 tons of in-kind assistance."

Pushing back on allegations that members of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, were involved in a cross-border attack by Gaza-based group Hamas on Israel, Michel asserted that UNRWA is "not a terrorist organization."

"We do not accept any attempt to label it as such. We will continue to support them together with our member states," he said on the allegations, which resulted in several countries temporarily withhold funding from the organization.

The European Council chief also reaffirmed Brussels' support for a two-state solution.

"Our third priority is about the future, a more peaceful future ... Security without peace is not security. Peace is the best and lasting security guarantee for both Israelis and Palestinians," he said.

Michel also thanked key partners, particularly Jordan and Egypt, for their role in providing humanitarian relief to people in Gaza.

Since last Oct. 7, more than 37,100 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, most of them women and children, and nearly 84,700 others injured, according to local health authorities.

Eight months into the Israeli war, vast tracts of Gaza lie in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water, and medicine.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, whose latest ruling ordered Tel Aviv to immediately halt its operation in the southern city of Rafah, where over a million Palestinians had sought refuge from the war before it was invaded on May 6.