Josep Borrell
Josep BorrellReuters

European Union (EU) foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell on Monday repeated his claim that Israel helped create Hamas.

Borrell, who was quoted by AFP, spoke in response to questions about his assertion in January that Israel had "created" and "financed" the terrorist group, a claim made amid the country's war against Hamas in Gaza.

"I do not say that (Israel) financed it by sending a cheque, but it has enabled the development of Hamas" as a rival to Fatah, he said in a forum at a business school in Madrid.

"It is an unquestionable reality that Israel has bet on dividing the Palestinians, creating a force to oppose Fatah," added Borrell.

Opponents of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have accused him and his governments of boosting Hamas for years, including by allowing Qatari financing of Gaza. Netanyahu has denied those allegations.

Borrell previously 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.

Earlier this month, the EU foreign affairs chief urged allies of Israel -- primarily the United States -- to stop sending it weapons as "too many people" are being killed in Gaza.

Pointing to US President Joe Biden's earlier comment that Israel's military action was "over the top", Borrell said, "Well, if you believe that too many people are being killed, maybe you should provide less arms in order to prevent so many people have been killed."