Top EU official blasts Israel for subjecting Gaza aid to political negotiations

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

A worker carries bags of humanitarian aid that entered Gaza by truck through the Kerem Shalom border crossing on February 17, 2024. (Photo by SAID KHATIB / AFP)
A worker carries bags of humanitarian aid that entered Gaza by truck through the Kerem Shalom border crossing on February 17, 2024. (Photo by SAID KHATIB / AFP)

A senior European Union official accuses Israel of subjecting humanitarian aid for Gaza to political negotiations.

“It’s a violation of international law to use humanitarian assistance as a variable, as it is to use hostages as a political tool. That goes against everything we stand for,” EU special envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process Sven Koopmans tells The Times of Israel in an interview.

Israel insists that there is no limit to the aid that it is prepared to facilitate for Gazan civilians. Israel has also reportedly offered to expand aid into northern Gaza as part of the hostage deal currently being negotiated.

Meanwhile, aid organizations claim that the restrictions Israel has put in place have significantly limited the volume of assistance that can enter the Strip. Even after managing to enter the enclave, much of the aid has not been delivered due to the breakdown of law and order in Gaza. Hamas police have refused to secure convoys after Israeli troops have shot dead nearly a dozen officers, deeming them legitimate targets.

European Union’s Middle East peace envoy Sven Koopmans. (Sven Koopmans/X)

Hours after the interview with Koopmans, dozens of Palestinians were killed while rushing an aid convoy in aid-deprived Gaza City.

“Humanitarian assistance, which is saving the lives of innocent civilians, cannot be made subject to political negotiations — [in which Israel agrees to allow more food in if Hamas agrees to certain conditions], even more when the other side, in this case, is a terrorist organization,” Koopmans says.

“How can you say, ‘we’re not going to feed these starving children unless that terror organization does something?’ It’s not just a matter of humanity and values, even though these are very important. It’s also a matter of international law,” the EU envoy adds.

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