Josep Borrell
Josep BorrellReuters

The European Union (EU) on Sunday condemned Hamas for using "hospitals and civilians as human shields" in Gaza, but also urged Israel to show "maximum restraint" to protect civilians from the war it is waging against Hamas.

"The EU is gravely concerned about the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.

“The EU joins calls for immediate pauses in hostilities and the establishment of humanitarian corridors, including through increased capacity at border crossings and through a dedicated maritime route, so that humanitarian aid can safely reach the population of Gaza,” he added.

Borrell further said that “the EU re-emphasizes Israel’s right to defend itself in line with international law and international humanitarian law. The EU calls for continued, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access and aid to reach those in need through all necessary measures including humanitarian corridors and pauses for humanitarian needs. In this regard, we welcome the results of the November 9 humanitarian conference held in Paris.”

“The EU reiterates its call on Hamas for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. It is crucial that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is granted access to the hostages,” continued the statement.

Borrell’s statement also stressed that the EU “condemns the use of hospitals and civilians as human shields by Hamas. Civilians must be allowed to leave the combat zone. These hostilities are severely impacting hospitals and taking a horrific toll on civilians and medical staff.”

“The EU emphasizes that international humanitarian law stipulates that hospitals, medical supplies and civilians inside hospitals must be protected. Hospitals must also be supplied immediately with the most urgent medical supplies and patients that require urgent medical care need to be evacuated safely. In this context, we urge Israel to exercise maximum restraint to ensure the protection of civilians,” he added.

Finally, the statement said, “The EU and its member states, will continue to work closely with international partners, the UN and other agencies as well as countries in the region to provide a sustained flow of assistance and facilitate access to food, water, medical care, fuel and shelter.”