G7 foreign ministers balance criticism of Hamas, support of Israel and push for ‘urgent action’ to help Gaza civilians.
Top diplomats from the Group of Seven (G7) have called for “humanitarian pauses” in Israel’s bombardment in order to deliver aid to desperate Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.
The foreign ministers from the leading industrial democracies announced on Wednesday that they have agreed upon a unified stance on the Israel-Hamas war, following intensive meetings in Tokyo.
They released a statement that condemned Hamas and supported Israel’s right to self-defence but called for humanitarian pauses in Israel’s shelling of Gaza.
The G7 statement sought to balance criticism of Hamas’s attacks and support for Israel with a push for “urgent action” to help civilians in the besieged Palestinian enclave, who are in desperate need of food, water, medical care and shelter.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the foreign ministers of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and Italy emphasised that they “support humanitarian pauses to facilitate urgently needed assistance, civilian movement and release of hostages”.
There was also condemnation of “the rise in extremist settler violence committed against Palestinians”, which the ministers said is “unacceptable, undermines security in the West Bank, and threatens prospects for a lasting peace”.
At least 154 Palestinians have been killed and 2,150 arrested by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank since the Israel-Hamas war broke out a month ago, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Society.
As the diplomats met in central Tokyo, a United Nations agency said thousands of Palestinians are fleeing south on foot in Gaza with only what they can carry after running out of food and water in the north.
Israel said its troops were battling Hamas fighters deep inside Gaza City, which was home to about 650,000 people before the war and where the Israeli military says Hamas has its central command and a vast labyrinth of tunnels.
Since October 7, the Israeli bombardment has killed more than 10,000 Palestinians, about 40 percent of them children, according to counts by Gaza’s health officials.
Nearly two-thirds of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents are internally displaced, according to UN figures, with thousands seeking refuge at hospitals, including in makeshift canvas shelters in their car parks.
Hospitals across the enclave have come under fire, with many struggling to continue operating amid shortages of fuel and medical supplies.
The UN says Gaza’s health, sanitation, water and food services are nearing “breaking point”.