Israel-Hamas war | EU to launch humanitarian air corridor to Gaza


European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Tirana, Albania, on October 16, 2023.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Tirana, Albania, on October 16, 2023.
| Photo Credit: AP

The European Union will launch a humanitarian air corridor to Gaza through Egypt with the first flights expected this week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Monday.

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“Palestinians in Gaza are in need of humanitarian help and aid. That is why… we are launching an EU humanitarian air bridge to Gaza through Egypt. The first two flights will start this week,” Ms. von der Leyen told a press conference in the Albanian capital Tirana, where she attended a regional Balkan summit.

The operation is consisting of “several flights to Egypt to bring lifesaving supplies to humanitarian organisations on the ground in Gaza”, a statement from the Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) department said.

The first two flights this week will be carrying humanitarian cargo from UNICEF including shelter items, medicines and hygiene kits, it said.

Earlier Monday, Egypt and France’s foreign ministers urged the delivery of humanitarian aid and the exit of foreign nationals from the bombarded Gaza Strip, as the war between Israel and Hamas entered its tenth day.

Israel has been at war since Gaza’s Hamas militants staged an unprecedented attack on October 7 in which its gunmen shot, stabbed and mutilated people in a surprise onslaught that shocked the nation.

The attack and fighting since have killed more than 1,400 in Israel, mainly civilians.

Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas and responded with a heavy bombing campaign on Gaza that has killed around 2,750 people.

According to the United Nations, a million people have been displaced inside Gaza.

Ms. von der Leyen said that there could be “no justification for Hamas’ heinous act of terror.”

“In the face of this horror Israel has the right to defend itself in line with humanitarian and international law,” she said and stressed that Palestinians in Gaza “cannot pay the price of Hamas’ barbarism”.

She reminded that the EU was tripling humanitarian aid to 75 million euros ($79 million) for the Gaza Strip.

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