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Change in tone on Gaza by EU aid chief - EUobserver

The European Union's humanitarian aid commissioner in a visit to Gaza on Monday (26 January) attacked the occupied territory's leaders as "a terrorist movement" and denounced the Israeli invasion as "abominable".

"Hamas has an enormous responsibility for what happened here in Gaza," said commissioner Louis Michel while visiting a UN aid compound that had been bombed by Israel.

Strong words for both sides from Mr Michel

He denounced Hamas rocket attacks on southern Israel as a "provocation" and said the Islamist party was "acting in the way of a terrorist movement."

Mr Michel also had sharp words for Tel Aviv.

"What I saw was abominable. It was unjustified," he said, calling on Israel to open border crossings not only to food and medicine, but also to construction materials.

Despite the even-handedness, the comments are a marked change for the commissioner, who during the height of the conflict issued some of the strongest denunciations of the Jewish state's actions of any European senior official or leader, telling Belgian daily La Libre Belgique on 13 January that Israel was in breach of international law.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:14:17 PM EST
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