European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced Saturday the EU is tripling humanitarian aid to 75 million euros for the Gaza Strip, which is facing a retaliatory bombardment by Israel over the deadly attack by Hamas.
Israel has warned 1.1 million people to evacuate northern Gaza before an expected large-scale ground offensive against Hamas, a week after the Islamist group launched the deadliest attack in Israeli history.
“We will continue our close cooperation with the UN and its agencies to ensure that this aid reaches those in need in the Gaza strip,” von der Leyen said in a statement, following a call with the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
The United Nations on Thursday issued an emergency appeal for $294 million to address “the most urgent needs” in Gaza and the occupied West Bank due to the recent fighting.
“The Commission supports Israel’s right to defend itself against the Hamas terrorists, in full respect of international humanitarian law.
We are working hard to ensure that innocent civilians in Gaza are provided support in this context,” she added.
Crisis management commissioner Janez Lenarcic stressed that “it is essential that safe and unrestricted access for humanitarian aid is ensured.”
More than 1,300 people, most of them civilians, were killed in Israel in last week’s attack while another 150 hostages were taken by Hamas, according to Israeli authorities.
More than 2,200 Palestinians, also mostly civilians, including 724 children, have also been killed in Gaza, which has been under a crippling Israeli blockade since Hamas seized power in the coastal enclave in 2007.
Earlier this week, the EU announced an “urgent review” of its development aid to the Palestinians, following the Hamas offensive.
Hungarian Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi had initially announced the suspension of all aid payments, but the EU executive subsequently rectified the situation, following an outcry in several other member states.
The aim of the review is to ensure that no European funding “enables any terrorist organization to carry out attacks on Israel,” the Commission has said.