European Union leaders called Thursday for a “humanitarian pause” to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza but stopped short of calling for a ceasefire. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen reaffirmed EU support for Israel, saying it had the right to self-defense in line with international law; she also blamed Hamas for provoking the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Her remarks came after Human Rights Watch director Tirana Hassan condemned both Hamas and Israel for targeting innocent civilians. Hassan testified on Wednesday to the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights.
Tirana Hassan: “You cannot wipe out entire families, let a health system be destroyed, raze entire districts to the ground, refer to people as animals. You can’t punish an entire population by preventing desperately needed aid from reaching them. International humanitarian law is clear: Atrocities from one side do not justify atrocities from the other side.”