A mother carries her child to safety, amidst collapsed building and rubble in the Gaza strip.

EU leaders must call for ceasefire now to protect civilians

Ahead of the European Union Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on Monday, which will discuss the current escalation of the conflict in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Amnesty International is urging the ministers attending to call for an immediate ceasefire by all parties to the conflict. The expanding humanitarian and human rights catastrophe unfolding in Gaza urgently needs to end.

The violence we are seeing in Gaza is so utterly horrifying that it is difficult to comprehend. But we must not look away. European Ministers should call for an immediate ceasefire by all parties. Stopping the fighting could save the lives of thousands of civilians and halt the further downwards spiral of this man-made humanitarian and human rights catastrophe.

Eve Geddie, Director of Amnesty’s European Institutions Office

While the EU has largely failed to reach a consensus position that is in line with international law or to outright call for a ceasefire, some member states, including Ireland, Belgium and Spain have called for a ceasefire, criticized human rights violations by Israel and Hamas and other armed groups, and respected people’s right to peacefully protest.

On the other hand, some states, including Austria, Czechia and Germany, have been blocking the EU from collectively calling for a ceasefire or calling out violations of international humanitarian law by Israeli security forces. Failing to do so is contributing to a climate of impunity in which the Israeli authorities feel emboldened to ignore their obligations to protect civilians.

“The EU, which claims to be a champion of human rights and international law, is facing a serious credibility crisis in the eyes of people around the world. Israel’s relentless bombardment is killing around 300 Palestinians every day, many of whom are children, and its illegal blockade has caused immeasurable humanitarian suffering. It is therefore unfathomable that some EU leaders are not only blocking an EU call for a ceasefire, but actively supplying Israel with weapons and political support as well as silencing and even arresting protesters who are standing up for Palestinians’ rights.”

“EU leaders must show that they value the lives of Palestinians and Israelis equally by calling for a ceasefire and unequivocally denouncing crimes committed by Israel and Hamas and other armed groups. In the absence of a consensus, we are calling upon principled member states to make a call for a ceasefire, individually or with other like-minded states.”

Amnesty International has called for the release of all civilians hostages held by Hamas and other armed groups. Further, Amnesty International found evidence of a spike arbitrary arrests by Israeli authorities of thousands of Palestinians, subjecting many of them to torture. Israel must release all arbitrarily detained Palestinians. All parties must urgently allow access for the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit those detained.

Amnesty International’s petition demanding a ceasefire to end civilian suffering has been backed by more than one million signatures

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