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The European Union has a long history of providing both economic and humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, a region that has been plagued by conflict, instability, and economic challenges for many years. Such aid is critical in addressing the humanitarian needs of the people living in Gaza, particularly in light of the devastating armed conflict that erupted on October 7 between Hamas and Israel.
The Gaza Strip, a small Palestinian territory on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, has been the center of intense conflict for many years. The most recent escalation of violence between Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, and Israel further exacerbated the already dire humanitarian situation in the region. The conflict resulted in extensive damage to infrastructure, loss of lives, and displacement of thousands of people. The EU’s humanitarian aid to Gaza has become even more crucial in the aftermath of this recent conflict. The funds and resources provided by the EU are instrumental in addressing immediate needs such as food, shelter, medical supplies, and clean water for the affected population.
In Gaza, health officials report 2,808 fatalities and 10,859 injuries due to Israeli attacks. The spokesman for Hamas’s Qassam Brigades, Abu Obeida, stated that Palestinian factions have taken 200 to 250 individuals captive from Israel. The Palestinian health ministry reported a death toll exceeding 470 individuals in the explosion of a Palestinian hospital in Gaza, with Israel disputing this figure, alleging intentional inflation. In parallel, US intelligence agencies conducted an assessment, estimating the number of casualties to range between 100 and 300 people. In the days preceding the explosion, Israel issued an evacuation order to 1.1 million Palestinians residing in the northern region of Gaza, urging them to relocate to the southern part of the Strip in anticipation of an impending ground offensive. Israel’s military notably issued evacuation advisories, including those directed at the al-Ahli Arab Hospital, as confirmed by the Anglican Church responsible for the administration of this medical facility. Martin Griffiths, the UN humanitarian chief, is en route to the Middle East in pursuit of humanitarian aid access for Gaza, which remains under siege. Israeli forces have apprehended at least 92 Palestinians in the West Bank within the past 24 hours, as indicated by a local human rights group. The World Health Organization has issued a warning, stating that there is only a 24-hour supply of water, electricity, and fuel remaining in Gaza, as Israel continues its bombardment of the area. Furthermore, both Israel and Hamas have denied reports of a ceasefire in southern Gaza, despite claims by security sources in Egypt suggesting that such an agreement was imminent.
The EU has been a consistent major donor of humanitarian aid to Gaza, providing support through various channels, including international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and UN agencies. This aid plays a crucial role in offering relief to those affected by recent conflicts, including medical support, shelter, food distribution, clean water access, and education programs. It also focuses on assisting vulnerable groups, such as women, children, and the elderly, who are disproportionately affected during conflicts. However, the ongoing political conflict in the region, as demonstrated by the October 7th escalation between Hamas and Israel, presents challenges in distributing aid and conducting long-term development efforts. Effective coordination with multiple stakeholders, including the Palestinian Authority and international organizations, is essential for the efficient use of aid. Looking ahead, the EU remains committed to providing both humanitarian and economic aid to Gaza, with the ultimate goal of addressing immediate needs while supporting long-term stability, economic development, and a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
Amid the worsening humanitarian conditions in Gaza, the European Union has taken a significant step by tripling its humanitarian aid commitment, surging beyond €75 million. This commitment, officially announced by President von der Leyen, is earmarked for providing essential support to the civilian population in Gaza. The funds are meticulously channeled through handpicked EU humanitarian partners, chosen based on their proven capacity and accessibility, ensuring efficient aid delivery where it is most needed. A remarkable development within this initiative is the launch of the EU Humanitarian Air Bridge operation. This operation orchestrates multiple flights to Egypt, serving as a vital conduit for transporting life-saving supplies to humanitarian organizations operating within Gaza. This operation operates seamlessly through the European Humanitarian Response Capacity, guaranteeing swift and effective aid delivery. Noteworthy is the EU’s consistent role as a primary contributor of both development and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people.
In the previous year, the EU allocated an approximate sum of €300 million in financial aid. Of this amount, €200 million was directed towards supporting the Palestinian Authority’s financial obligations, encompassing social and medical costs, salaries, pensions, and various developmental projects. Additionally, an allocation of around €100 million was specifically designated for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). This comprehensive approach underscores the EU’s steadfast commitment to addressing the humanitarian needs and promoting the development of the Palestinian population. It highlights the EU’s pivotal role in providing crucial assistance during both crises and long-term developmental endeavors.
Written by: Nenad Stekić