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Borrell again calls for ‘humanitarian pause’ in Gaza

The E.U. foreign policy chief said that the pause would be in exchange for Red Cross access to the hostages held by Hamas.

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell in Brussels, Oct. 7, 2019. Credit: European Parliament via Wikimedia Commons.
European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell in Brussels, Oct. 7, 2019. Credit: European Parliament via Wikimedia Commons.

Josep Borrell, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, on Monday again called for a “humanitarian pause” in Gaza, a move that Israel rejects as its forces continue to hammer Hamas.

“I think that a humanitarian pause counterbalanced by access to hostages with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as a first step to their release is an initiative on which we should work,” Borrell told E.U. diplomats in Brussels, AFP reported.

“Call it a truce, window, whatever, but we need that violence recedes and that international humanitarian law is being respected,” Borrell added.

The United States and the United Kingdom are also pushing for “humanitarian pauses” in the fighting.

Austria last month criticized a statement made by Borrell that went against an earlier E.U. statement condemning Hamas for its Oct. 7 massacre of Israeli civilians. In the Oct. 28 tweet, Borrell appeared to condemn Israel, writing that “far too many civilians, including children, have been killed. This is against International Humanitarian Law.”

The E.U. statement did not say that Israel had violated international law, rather that Israel had the right to defend itself in accordance with international law.

Israel will not agree to any ceasefire with Hamas unless the terrorist group releases the more than 200 hostages it kidnapped during its Oct. 7 attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday following a tour of Ramon Air Force Base in the Negev Desert.

“There will be no ceasefire without the return of the hostages. This should be completely removed from the lexicon. We say this to our friends and to our enemies: We will continue until we defeat them. We have no alternative,” Netanyahu told air force personnel.

“Our enemies misjudged us. They thought that on the crucial day, we would not report for duty. We reported together and now we are fighting shoulder to shoulder,” added the prime minister, in an apparent reference to the domestic unrest in Israel surrounding his government’s judicial reform push.

Netanyahu concluded by saying that “the entire nation is united and relies on you, appreciates what you are doing and believes in you. We will continue together until victory.”

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