EU leadership must put an end to its double standards and complicity in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people

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EU leadership must put an end to its double standards and complicity in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people

EU leadership
must put an end to its double standards and complicity in Israel’s crimes
against the Palestinian people

civil society organizations urgently call on the President of the European
Commission, Ursula von Der Leyen, and the President of the European Parliament,
Roberta Metsola, and the European Union’s (EU) leadership to demand Israel to
comply with its obligations under international law, to stop its deliberate
targeted attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure in Gaza, including
with white phosphorus, to end all forms
of collective punishment, to lift the 16-year-long illegal closure and blockade
on Gaza, and to rescind the evacuation
orders to over one million
Palestinians. As a bare minimum, the EU must pressure Israel to facilitate the
free passage of humanitarian consignments into Gaza for the immediate delivery
of basic supplies necessary for the survival of the population, including food,
water and medicine. The EU’s double standards and support of Israeli crimes
against the Palestinian people must end now.

On 7 October 2023, Israel launched a
full-fledged military offensive on the Gaza Strip, aimed at erasing and
reducing the territory to rubble. Under international humanitarian law,
“the only legitimate object which States should endeavor to accomplish during
war is to weaken the military forces of the enemy”. In pursuing this aim, “the
right of the Parties to the conflict to choose methods or means of warfare is not unlimited”.

resounding silence of the EU leadership on Israeli atrocities committed in Gaza
and their blind support for Israel signals that the EU is green-lighting,
enabling and encouraging Israel’s military actions, which already may amount to
war crimes, crimes against humanity, and incitement to commit genocide.

During a meeting of the Israeli government held on Saturday, 7th of October
2023, May Golan, Israel’s Minister for the Advancement of the Status of Women, announced
that: “All of Gaza’s infrastructures must be destroyed to its foundation and
their electricity cut off immediately. The war is not against Hamas but against
the state of Gaza.” Later that evening, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu declared: “I say to the residents
of Gaza: get out of there now, because we will act everywhere and with all the

These statements unequivocally underlie the intention—turned into
action—to carpet bomb Gaza, one of the most densely populated areas in the
world, treating the entirety of the territory as one single military objective
in breach of sacrosanct principles of international humanitarian law.
Palestinian civilians, including one million children, are trapped in Gaza, with
no shelter, no food, no water, no electricity, and crippled infrastructure
which may collapse at any moment.

And yet,
despite blatant evidence of Israel’s intention to perpetrate serious
international crimes against Palestinian civilians in Gaza, the response of the
EU and the majority of its Member States has been one-sided—to the point of
complicity in Israel’s international crimes. An unremitting international blind
eye has been turned to the 2,215 Palestinians, including at least 724 children
and 458 women, killed by Israeli attacks in Gaza, and to another 8,714 wounded
with various injuries, including at least 2,450 children and 1,536 women.[1]
Entire Palestinian families have been wiped out. Dozens of bodies are still
under the rubble and Israel has turned Gaza from an open-air prison into an
open-air morgue.


President von der Leyen shared images of the Berlaymont
building, which houses the headquarters of the European Commission, lit up with
the colors of the Israeli flag, while announcing her support for the
right of Israel to defend itself- “today and in the days to come” and that
“[t]he European Union stands with Israel”. At
the time of writing, President von der Leyen has not written a single statement
calling on Israel to comply with its international legal obligations or
denouncing the blatant international crimes committed by Israel in Gaza.
unilateral support was shown by the President of the
European Parliament, Roberta Metsola and by several EU Member States.

On 9 October 2023, Yoav Gallant, Israel’s Minister of Defense, stated: “We are imposing a
complete siege on [Gaza]. No electricity, no food, no water, no fuel – everything
is closed. We are fighting human animals, and we act accordingly”. This
statement, which includes genocidal
language dehumanizing the Palestinian people as “human animals”, should put the
international community on notice of Israel’s incitement to commit acts of
genocide, and trigger a strong EU response in terms of its international law
duty to prevent.


On 19 October 2022, while addressing the European Parliament, von der
Leyen said: “Russia’s
attacks against civilian infrastructure, especially electricity, are war
Targeted attacks on civilian infrastructure, with the clear aim
of cutting off men, women, children of water,
electricity and heating with winter coming—these are acts of pure terror. And
we have to call it as such”.
No similar declarations were made with
respect to Israel’s cutting off electricity, food, water, fuel, and medicine to
Gaza. This stark disparity underscores the European leadership’s shameful
double standards, which seemingly regards Palestinian lives as second-id,
entrenching the apartheid reality.


On 13 October
2023—the same day Israel demanded over one million civilians in northern Gaza
evacuate their homes towards areas south of Wadi Gaza—Ursula von der Leyen and
Roberta Metsola met with the Israeli leadership. As thousands of Palestinians were
forced to leave their homes, in what is the largest forced displacement since
the 1948 Nakba, the EU leadership were photographed shaking hands with Israeli
President, Isaac Herzog.


We recall that earlier this year, Ursula von
der Leyen celebrated Israel’s independence day using racist tropes, denying the
Palestinian Nakba, the mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinians which paved the
foundation for the State of Israel. Yet
again, as a present-day Nakba unfolds before our eyes, President von der Leyen
is not just ignoring it, but facilitating it through her statements and
presence in the region.

For decades, our organizations have called on
the EU to impose sanctions against Israel, pursuant to the EU Global Human
Rights Sanctions Regime, for its for its accumulating crime against
Palestinians, including wilful killing, arbitrary mass arrests, administrative
detentions without due process, property appropriation, destruction, forcible
transfer, settler transfer in, collective punishment, persecution, and
apartheid amongst others. All our calls remain unheeded. Yet, less than 48
hours after the beginning of Israel’s onslaught in Gaza, EU Commissioner
Varhelyi unilaterally and arbitrarily announced that the European
Commission intended to cut its aid to the Palestinians living under Israeli
military occupation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East
Jerusalem. This statement was later retracted by HRVP Borrell. However, other
EU Member States have inpidually decided to cut, review, or suspend
aid—including Germany, Sweden, Denmark, and Austria.

demand that the President of the European Commission, Ursula von Der Leyen, and
the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, fully denounce
Israel’s indiscriminate military reprisals against Palestinian civilians and
civilian objects in Gaza, and intervene to protect the Palestinian people
against Israel’s incitement to genocide.

European leaders must firmly pressure Israel,
the Occupying Power, to respect its obligations under international law,
including ensuring the vital supply of water, gas, fuel, electricity and basic
supplies to Palestinians in Gaza, and to cease any attack on civilians and
civilian facilities. European leaders also have a duty to hold Israel
accountable for its violations of international law and collective punishment
against civilians, including by publicly and unconditionally supporting the
current investigation carried out by the Prosecutor of the International
Criminal Court.

violence to end, European leaders must address and eradicate the root causes of
the ongoing violence, namely, Israel’s seven-decade long settler-colonial enterprise
and oppression of the Palestinian people. The Israeli military must fully, unconditionally,
and immediately withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territory, as mandated
under numerous UN Security Council and UN General Assembly resolutions. The EU
must intervene to ensure that Israel dismantles its discriminatory apartheid
regime, including by rescinding all discriminatory laws and facilitating the
right of return and to self-determination of the Palestinian people.



Al Mezan Center for
Human Rights

The Palestinian
Institute for Public Diplomacy (PIPD)

Bisan Center for
Research and Development

Union of Agricultural
Work Committees (UAWC)

Health Work
Committees (HWC)

Addameer Prisoner
Support and Human Rights Association

The Palestinian
Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy – MIFTAH

Al-Haq, Law in the
Service of Man

Defense for Children
International – Palestine

The Palestinian
Centre for Human Rights

Women’s Centre for
Legal Aid and Counselling – WCLAC

The BDS (Boycotts,
pestment, Sanction) movement

[1] As of 12:30 pm on Saturday, 14 October 2023.