EU increases aid, calls for humanitarian pause as war rages in Gaza

AP - Mohammed Alaswad

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on Monday said the EU is increasing its humanitarian aid for Gaza by 25 million euros. This comes as Israeli forces pushed on with intense strikes targeting Palestinian militants in the besieged area with the Hamas-run health ministry reporting a death toll of over 10,000.

"By doing so the European Union will spend a total of 100 million euros in humanitarian aid for the civilians in Gaza," von der Leyen told EU diplomats in Brussels.

Von der Leyen said flows of aid into Gaza from Egypt "remain too small" and the EU was working on setting up other possible routes including deliveries via sea from Cyprus.

A staunch supporter of Israel, Von der Leyen said it was essential the country "strives to avoid civilian casualties" in its operation in Gaza.

The Israeli army said on Monday it had carried out "significant" strikes on 450 targets, having said last week it had already hit over 12,000.

The Israeli military accuses Hamas of building tunnels underneath hospitals, schools and places of worship in Gaza to hide fighters, store arms and ammunition, and plan attacks – charges the militant group has denied.

Children under the rubble

"Hamas is clearly using innocent Palestinians and hostages as human shields – it is horrific and it is pure evil," von der Leyen said.

"Our hearts bleed at the images of small children pulled out from under the rubble."

(With newswires)

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