DUBAI: European Union Foreign Affairs High Representative Josep Borrell has been accused of double standards after a journalist asked him if international laws had been broken in the Gaza Strip and he gave conflicting answers.
It came during an interview with Al Jazeera’s Osman Ayfarah regarding ongoing Israeli military operations in Gaza following the attack on Israel by Hamas on Oct. 7.
When asked whether Israel’s bombardment of the enclave constituted a war crime, the EU official said that he was not a lawyer and deferred to the International Criminal Court who could investigate, adding that “several countries have asked the court to open a case.”
But Borrell was quick to answer when asked if the EU believed that what Hamas did on Oct. 7 was a war crime.
“Yes, we consider that a war crime, for killing civilians in this apparent way without any reason, killing them just for being there, not for any other reason,” he said.
Ayfarah responded: “You just told me, when asked about Israel, that you are not a lawyer. How is this clarity in your accusation against Hamas for committing war crimes? And when I ask you about Israel, you say you are not a lawyer, as many Western politicians often do. This is why many accuse you of clear double standards.”
Borrell replied: “No, we do not have double standards. We want to adhere to principles based on what we have witnessed. And personally, yes, that could rise to the level of war crimes. But again, you are right; we should let the International Criminal Court decide that.”
Israel expanded military operations in Gaza on Monday against Hamas. Its aerial and ground offensives have already killed around 13,000 people including thousands of children.
Foreign ministers from the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Indonesia held meetings with their Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing on Monday, on the first leg of a tour to the permanent member states of the UN Security Council to push for an immediate ceasefire and to allow humanitarian aid into the territory.