Gaza’s situation may turn ‘apocalyptic’: EU official

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A senior European Union official has warned that the already catastrophic situation in Gaza may become apocalyptic if there is no humanitarian pause or any arrangement for dispatching humanitarian assistance to the civilians in the enclave.

“In the future, if this [humanitarian pause] does not happen, I think that the catastrophic situation we already see in Gaza Strip will become apocalyptic,” EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic told a group of Turkish journalists in Brussels on Nov. 7. 

The EU, along with the United States, has been calling for a humanitarian pause in the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas so that humanitarian assistance can be dispatched to the civilians in the Gaza Strip. “Due to the military offensive, humanitarian assistance cannot go to everyone in need. That’s why we need a humanitarian pause, humanitarian ceasefire, humanitarian corridor… however you wish to name it,” he said.

The commissioner has urged that the conditions are severing in the Gaza Strip, where around 2 million people have been stranded amidst the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

The Israeli offensive, in response to Hamas’ attack on Oct. 7, has killed more than 10,000 civilians in Gaza and left around 2 million Palestinians without sufficient food, fuel and other basic needs. The U.N., the EU and many other countries and international organizations are rushing to deliver help to the Palestinians, but the Israeli siege blocks the entry of the assistance to the enclave.

The calls for a humanitarian pause or a humanitarian ceasefire have not been responded positively by Israel. 

Lenarcic recalled that international law obliges all the parties, either a state or a non-state actor, in any conflict to allow a safe and unrestricted flow of humanitarian assistance to civilians. “What is a humanitarian pause? For this, you need to have a clear agreement between the warring parties, in this case Israel and Hamas, which will define specific time periods for the cessation of hostilities in specifically defined areas,” he said.

HH ‘Humanitarian aid to Gaza grossly insufficient’

Explaining that the EU has already tripled the amount of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians after the escalation began on Oct. 7, Lenarcic, however, stressed that funding and the amount of humanitarian assistance sent to Gaza are not enough.

“The amount of humanitarian assistance allowed in Gaza is grossly insufficient. The U.N. says hundreds of trucks need to enter Gaza daily. We have around 500 trucks in one month, but this must be 500 trucks every day,” he stated.

One of the most important reasons why the number of trucks entering Gaza is limited is the bureaucratic and security measures taken in the Rafah, the commissioner said, asking Israel and Egypt to find ways to accelerate the process. Lenarcic also informed that the EU is helping Egypt to improve its logistical capacity for delivering humanitarian assistance. 

HH ‘Fuel is a big problem’ 

The EU commissioner has also emphasized the problems stemming from the Israeli ban on sending fuel to Gaza. “As you know fuel is not allowed in Gaza. This is a big problem,” he said, recalling in the absence of energy it is impossible to run the hospitals, to supply food and other needs to the civilians. “It is desperately needed to alleviate the situation in Gaza,” Lenarcic said.

Israel says fuel is a dual-use good and can be used by Hamas for military purposes. “We understand this but it is possible to introduce measures to prevent the use of fuel for military purposes,” Lenarcic maintained.

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