(April 20, 2018 / Israel Hayom) The European Parliament voted on Thursday—for the first time to date—to condemn Hamas for its acts of terrorism and use of human shields.
The motion, titled, “Gaza Strip: prevent any further escalation of violence,” was passed by an overwhelming majority of 524 in favor to 30 against, with 92 abstentions.
The members of the European Parliament “condemn Hamas for instigating violence and for its terrorist activities on the Israel-Gaza border and call on all parties involved to respect the human rights of detainees and prisoners,” a statement posted on the parliament’s website said.
“The European Parliament appeals to all protesters in Gaza to refrain from using rhetoric that instigates violence and to prevent the unnecessary loss of lives. It also urges Israel to address its territorial concerns with proportionate measures.”
The statement further suggested that “Israel and Palestine to use nonviolent means and respect human rights, in order to prevent further deaths and achieve a peaceful two-state solution.”
It criticized Israel, saying MEPs “appeal for an immediate and unconditional end to the blockade and closure of the Gaza Strip, to facilitate efforts to remedy the humanitarian crisis there.”
The three-page resolution noted that Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by the European Union and, focusing largely on recent violent border riots, said parliament “strongly condemns the continuous tactic of Hamas to use civilians for the purpose of shielding terrorist activities. … Hamas seems to aim at escalating tensions.”
The European Parliament also denounced the terrorist group’s abuse of the population under its rule.
“Hamas continues to keep the population under control and pressure in the Gaza Strip, which remains a hub of internationally recognized terrorist organizations,” the motion said, further condemning Hamas for restricting “basic freedoms, including of association and expression.”
While the European Parliament condemned the Israel Defense Forces’s use of live fire in response to the border riots, it acknowledged “Israel’s security challenges and the need to protect its territory and borders while using proportionate means,” saying it “condemns the terror attacks of Hamas and other militant groups against Israel from the Gaza Strip, including the firing of rockets, infiltrations into Israeli territory and the building of tunnels.”
The European Parliament urged the IDF to curb its uses of crowd-control measures and live fire, saying that it “calls for utmost restraint and underlines that the priority must be to avoid any further escalation of violence and loss of life; expresses its regret of the loss of lives; condemns the killings and injuries of innocent Palestinian demonstrators in the Gaza Strip over the past three weeks and urges the IDF to refrain from using lethal force against unarmed protesters.”
The motion cautioned that “intentional use of lethal force against protesters who do not pose an imminent threat to life or serious injury violates international human rights law and in the context of occupation is a serious breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
The European Parliament’s statement also urged the return of all Israelis held captive in Gaza by Hamas.
The terrorist group is believed to hold the bodies of Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul and Lt. Hadar Goldin, who were killed in the Gaza Strip in separate battles during “Operation Protective Edge” in the summer of 2014. Ethiopian Israeli Avera Mengistu and Bedouin Hisham al-Sayed, both suffering from mental-health issues, crossed into Gaza voluntarily in 2014 and 2015, and are believed to have been captured by Hamas. A fifth Israeli, Jumaa Abu Ghanima, crossed the border into Gaza in 2016; his fate remains unknown.
The American Jewish Committee’s Transatlantic Institute lauded the unusually balanced E.U. resolution.
“The AJC Transatlantic Institute praises the European Parliament for condemning Hamas for the war crimes it committed during the recent violent protests,” the group said in a statement on its website.
It criticized the E.U. legislator for urging an “unconditional” end to Israel’s maritime blockade on the Hamas-ruled territory, imposed as part of the Jewish state’s counterterrorism efforts.
“Calling for the ‘unconditional’ end to Israel’s targeted blockade is at this time, unfortunately, neither realistic nor an even remotely reasonable proposal,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, director of AJC’s EU office.
“Gaza is still ruled by the same Islamist terror group, Hamas, which seeks the destruction of the Jewish state,” he continued. “Instead of constructing schools and hospitals to improve the lives of ordinary Palestinians, Hamas uses scarce resources to build and fire rockets at Israeli civilians and to advance its network of terror tunnels infiltrating into Israeli communities.”