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Gaza Strip

Dead End for Europe




After the unspeakable atrocities of last week, Israel will never be the same, and this also holds for Gaza and the Palestinians. An emotionally shattered Israel is united in the determination to destroy the terror infrastructure constructed over 17 years (following the violent Hamas takeover from the PLO in 2007), regardless of criticism. Meanwhile, Hamas is blocking escape routes and using Israeli survivors as hostages in order to retain the missiles and underground terror network – writes Gerald M Steinberg, emeritus professor of politics at Bar Ilan University and president of NGO Monitor.

The response from the Americans to this horror was immediate, including deploying a naval carrier group, supported by additional vessels from the UK. Washington made it clear that if Iran and its Hezbollah terror proxy joins in murdering Israelis, they are prepared to intervene.

Europe, which has no significant security capabilities to add, sent some leaders to demonstrate relevance, including EU President von der Leyen. But the strong statements condemning Hamas and pledging support for Israeli self-defense were largely drowned out by her opponents, led by Vice President Josep Borrell who called for increasing aid to the Palestinians. But the brutal Hamas attack exposed the abject failure of this European approach and the door to expanding or even continuing this policy has been slammed shut.

Since the mid-1990s and the Oslo peace accords, the EU and member states have provided billions to the Palestinians. Much of the €691 million budgeted for aid by the EU alone is funneled into Gaza, where it immediately disappears into the Hamas-controlled terror project. Tonnes of concrete and other building materials designated for housing and schools are immediately stolen for use in the kilometers of tunnels where Hamas leaders direct mass killings. In underground workshops, tens of thousands of lethal missiles - each a war crime - are made from water pipes, chemicals, copper stripped from wires and other stolen materials.

In Israel, von der Leyen declared “EU funding has never and will never go to Hamas or any terrorist entity”, which she probably believes but is obviously wrong. Other EU diplomats refer to audits by reputable firms which conclude with statements like “we have no evidence of diversion” – because in a terror-controlled area, they have no access to reliable evidence. Auditors cannot question documents they are given or the people who prepare them, and cannot distinguish between salaries and food packages for civilians from the ones stolen by terrorists. In Gaza, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere, the burden of proof in preventing diversion is on the donor.

When I have asked officials how they explain the massive terror facilities obtained by Hamas and allied terror groups in Gaza, they change the subject. But they know – everyone in Gaza and outside knows. In a meeting with an NGO official based in Cyprus tasked with overseeing aid projects, she noted that in her frequent visits to Gaza, farmers showed fields planted with her government’s money. I asked whether she had inquired about the reports of terror tunnels underground, and she smiled limply – she knew what not to ask.

This indifference was a major factor in the planning for the brutal Hamas massacre and the construction of a massive terror infrastructure, leaving Israel with no option other than to use military force to demilitarize Gaza. European officials who turned a collective blind eye for many years share the dubious responsibility for these terrible events.


No-questions-asked aid funding is not the only way in which European governments fail the accountability test. Europe funds a network of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that use human rights and international law to demonize Israel and refer to Palestinian terror and kidnapping of Israelis as “resistance.”

For example, in recent days, members of the NGO known as 7amleh, funded by the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Germany, have posted vile propaganda including on Facebook in which a board member wrote “The Palestinian resistance is imposing a new stage since the beginning of the Al-Aqsa flood operation by resistance fighters infiltrating into numerous Israeli neighborhoods in the settlements…” Another official posted a video claiming that Hamas did not commit atrocities during the October 7 massacres, and accusing Israel of spreading lies in order to commit atrocities itself. The taxpayers of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Germany are paying for this hate speech.

In another example, officials from Al-Haq, reportedly linked to the PFLP terror organization, and receives funds from Sweden, Germany, France, Denmark, posted propaganda slogans supporting Palestinian resistance (mass murder) with the tags #GazaUnderAttack #EndIsraeliImpunity.” One post declared ”You must wage jihad. The best jihad is preparing for war, and it is best to prepare for war in Ashkelon’” and another shared a picture on Facebook of a terrorist aiming a gun, and wrote, “A message of intense love” to one of the terrorists who led the brutal massacre.

None of this is new and all are examples of Europe’s failed policies and contributions to propaganda. In the first days of this terrible war, leaders in a number of countries issued declarations on freezing the funding pending investigations. In response, Palestinian supporters (such as EU Vice President Josep Borrell) immediately rejected these declarations.

If Europe expects to be taken seriously, the aid and NGO industries must be immediately frozen pending detailed independent investigations and continuous oversight. In any case, without these overdue measures, no Israeli government will allow the free flow of materials to resume to Gaza.

Gerald M Steinberg is emeritus professor of politics at Bar Ilan University and president of NGO Monitor.

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