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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)
News article5 July 2024Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations1 min read

Joint statement by the High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell and Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič on military action in Khan Younis, Gaza

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The European Union is deeply concerned about the Israeli army orders to evacuate civilians from the area of Khan Younis. Some 250,000 people are impacted by the evacuation orders. These orders also threaten the patients of the European Hospital, one of the few remaining partially functioning hospitals in southern Gaza.

Injured and sick patients from the European Hospital, including pregnant women and elderly people, were forced to relocate to other facilities, such as the Nasser Hospital. Staff also tried to save medical equipment. This evacuation decision is certain to worsen overcrowding, and cause severe shortages in the already overwhelmed remaining hospitals, at a time when access to emergency medical care is critical.

Forced evacuations are creating a humanitarian crisis within the crisis. They exacerbate an already catastrophic humanitarian situation, with nearly 1.9 million Gazans displaced within the Strip, as stated by UN Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza Sigrid Kaag in the Security Council. There are no facilities to accommodate people, and humanitarian partners struggle to meet the immense needs of the newly displaced.

The European Union reiterates that for evacuations not to amount to prohibited forcible transfers, they must conform with International Humanitarian Law, guaranteeing safety in transit and proper accommodation in areas of refuge for Palestinians called on to evacuate. Israel is likewise responsible for guaranteeing that displaced persons are able to return to their homes, or areas of habitual residence, once hostilities end. Displaced people also need to have access to the necessary services and have their needs met.

Faced with the deteriorating situation, the European Union has mobilised all its crisis response and humanitarian tools to channel needed aid to Gaza. This includes medical supplies, drugs and medications, and a significant increase in EU funding to humanitarian partners.

A ceasefire is all the more important now, and would make possible a surge of humanitarian assistance to Gaza as well as the release of all hostages.

The European Union recalls the obligation to respect and implement the orders of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of 26 January and 24 May 2024, which are legally binding. The EU gives its full support to the comprehensive roadmap presented by President Biden and calls for the immediate implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 2735, as well as the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions 2728, 2720 and 2712.