The European Union will triple the amount of aid it is sending to Gaza, Ursula von der Leyen has announced. (EPA-EFE/DUMITRU DORU)


EU to triple aid to Gaza as leaders gather for emergency Middle East summit


The European Union will triple the amount of aid it is sending to Gaza, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has announced.

It comes as European Council President Charles Michel gathers EU leaders for an emergency meeting on the Middle East, with much of the bloc split on whether to throw their weight behind Israel or Palestine.

Speaking after a meeting with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, von der Leyen confirmed that the EU would be increasing the amount of cash it is sending to the Hamas-controlled region.

“The Commission will immediately increase the current humanitarian aid envelope foreseen for Gaza by €50 million,” she said.

“This will bring the total to over €75 million. We will continue our close co-operation with the UN and its agencies to ensure that this aid reaches those in need in the Gaza Strip.”

Von der Leyen was keen to stress that the EU was still supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself despite recent criticisms of the country’s military methods.

“The Commission supports Israel’s right to defend itself against the Hamas terrorists, in full respect of international humanitarian law,” the president said, although she added that Brussels was also “working hard” to protect Palestinian civilians.

Such mixed messaging has been emblematic of the EU response to the conflict, with even the EC split on whether to boost aid to Palestine ahead of a possible Israeli ground invasion, or cut it off entirely to punish Hamas.

EU leaders at the national level appear to be just as divided. Countries such as Ireland and Portugal are vocal critics of Israel while Germany and France back the Jewish state.

Michel is set to host a virtual meeting on October 17 aiming to establish a common EU position.

“It is of utmost importance that the European Council, in line with the treaties and our values, sets our common position and establishes a clear unified course of action that reflects the complexity of the unfolding situation,” he said.

He also insisted that the EU stood in “full solidarity” with Israel despite the ongoing infighting, denouncing the “brutal terrorist attacks” committed by Hamas.