We urgently call upon the European Union (EU) institutions and EU Member States to take immediate and decisive action in response to the ongoing conflict in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and Israel and to end war crimes committed against civilians.
"Child casualties in Gaza are a growing stain on our collective conscience” said Adele Khodr, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. UNICEF and other UN agencies and experts are calling for an immediate ceasefire and sustained and unimpeded access to humanitarian assistance.
We condemn the attacks committed by Hamas and support EU decision-makers in their call for the release of hostages. We also strongly urge EU decision-makers to stand against Israel’s war crimes and collective punishment committed against the Palestinian population especially children who amounted to half of Gaza's 2.3 million population before the start of the conflict. They are the most impacted by this conflict and the generated sense of fear and horror.
As UN Secretary-General António Guterres reminded, "The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation. They have seen their land steadily devoured by settlements and plagued by violence; their economy stifled; their people displaced, and their homes demolished. Their hopes for a political solution to their plight have been vanishing."
In a statement by Francesca Albanese, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, calls for decisive protection of Palestinian children under Israeli rule and highlights that “Israel’s framing of Palestinian children as ‘human shields’ or ‘terrorists’ to justify the violence against them and their parents is profoundly dehumanizing. Today’s hell cannot obscure the violence of the past decades. To address the crisis, it is imperative to comprehend what led to it. We must understand the devastating impact of Israel’s occupation and ever-expanding colonial presence on generations of Palestinian children.”
The destruction of phone and internet connections in Gaza by Israeli forces in the past week has created an information vacuum, making it nearly impossible for relief efforts for children and families to coordinate or receive instructions that help avoid the explosions. The intensified air strikes that followed hindered the proper functioning of humanitarian partners, hospitals, and medical services, particularly disrupting the central emergency number that allows ambulances to reach the injured.
We are also deeply concerned about the freedom of speech restrictions going on around Europe with countries forbidding pro-Palestinian demonstrations. Governments should protect freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly of their citizens in all situations and with no exceptions. We are also worried about the increase in episodes of Islamophobia and racism against Arab and Muslim communities in European cities. This has been fueled by the position taken by Western governments and the language used by the media referring to the conflict. This perpetuates stereotypes and biases towards certain communities that continue to be amongst the most vulnerable in our societies.
Eurochild calls on European Union (EU) institutions and EU Member States to use all available avenues to alleviate the suffering of Palestinian civilians, including children. The EU must equally support civilians, regardless of religion, nationality or residence, and hold accountable all parties equally. Anything less would show an unacceptable double standard in the EU’s response to humanitarian crises, ultimately undermining the EU’s internal social, democratic, and international credibility.
The humanitarian crisis demands your immediate attention, and we implore EU Institutions and EU Member States to use their diplomatic influence to:
- Advocate for an immediate ceasefire
- Support sustained and unimpeded access to humanitarian assistance, as called by the European Council last week
- Promote peaceful negotiations
- Publicly and unconditionally call for accountability for all parties to the conflict, without exception, for their violation of international law and the collective punishment of civilians.