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Brussels, 30 December 2008

The European Commission urges Hamas and Israel to immediately halt all attacks affecting the civilian population and requests Israel to open up the humanitarian space

The European Commission is deeply concerned by the situation in Gaza. Recent hostilities have already caused an estimated 350 deaths and over 1400 wounded. The lack of access for humanitarian goods and relief workers creates a dramatic situation for thousands of civilians.

The European Commission is extremely concerned about the plight of civilians in the Gaza Strip. It calls for an immediate halt to military hostilities that are having a heavy impact on the civilian population in Gaza. It also firmly calls for a halt to the rocket attacks targeting Israeli civilians. 

The European Commission insists on the need for sufficient access for supplies of essential humanitarian goods to Gaza in particular in view of the dramatic situation of hospitals there. Urgent measures have to be taken in order to ensure safe and secure conditions for the distribution of these goods and to facilitate access of international agencies.

As a first preliminary reaction to the humanitarian consequences of the current strikes, the European Commission is providing support to meet the most urgent medical needs in Gaza in addition to our ongoing support and in close cooperation with the international community. The Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) provides currently over EUR 73 million in humanitarian assistance to the West Bank and Gaza.  56% of this amount is allocated to Gaza.

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