EU chief von der Leyen slammed for 'double standards' on war-hit Ukraine and Gaza

EU chief von der Leyen slammed for 'double standards' on war-hit Ukraine and Gaza
Ursula von der Leyen has been accused of having "double standards" concerning Russia's war in Ukraine and Israel's assault on Gaza, given her differing stances on the two cases.
3 min read
13 October, 2023
Von der Leyen has stood in solidarity with Israel despite its relentless attacks on Gaza [Getty]

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen has been accused of "having double standards" by activists online following "contradictory stances" on Russian and Israeli assaults in Ukraine and Gaza.

Amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, the EU Commission President labelled Moscow’s attacks on its eastern neighbour as "pure terror" and actions "constituting "war crimes," condemning them on numerous occasions.

Von der Leyen accused Russia of carrying out targeted attacks in Ukraine against civilian infrastructure, as well as having a "clear aim" of cutting off men, women and children of water, electricity and heating" despite the cold winter.

Meanwhile, many social media users were quick to point out von der Leyen's "hypocrisy" as Israel - in a similar move to Russia - vowed to cut off all fuel, food and water from the densely populated Strip until Israelis captured by Hamas are released.

"Any statement about Israel's attacks against civilian infrastructure, especially, electricity, water and heating with winter coming soon? Aren't these acts of terror?" one user said.

The European leader has not commented nor condemned Israel's attacks or siege on Gaza so far, and has instead opted to reiterate the EU's support for Tel Aviv, while slamming Hamas for its actions in Israel.

"At the dawn of Shabbat, last Saturday, the whole world woke up in horror. The terrorist attack is an act of war. And we fully support Israel's right to defend itself," the EU chief said.

"Europe stands with Israel in this tragedy," she posted on Wednesday.

Like Russia, Israel has also targeted civilian institutions such as hospitals mosques and residential buildings, leaving thousands displaced and homeless.

Conditions in hospitals are also bleak, due to the number of Palestinians requiring treatment as well as the lack of power, as Gaza Strip's only power plant shut down on Wednesday afternoon.

At least 1,417 have been killed in Gaza since Saturday, including over 450 children, and over 6,000 wounded.

Nearly half of the victims are women and children, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said. The death toll in Israel stands at 1,300, with thousands injured.

The EU, led by von der Leyen, held a minute's silence on Wednesday for Israeli victims of Hamas' attacks but made no mention of Palestinians.

The European leader, however, has made several statements and actions in solidarity with Ukrainians, who have been under Russian attack for over a year.

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Moreover, the EU went on to impose numerous sanctions on Russia with the intention of crippling the country's ability to finance its war in Kyiv, as a consequence of its invasion.

Von der Leyen, in an interview with The Washington Post in September, went on to say that EU member states were "amazingly supportive" of Ukraine, amid the European bloc’s financial support of the war-struck country.

Meanwhile, the EU found itself in hot water after European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi on Monday said "all aid to Palestinians would be suspended," before backpaddling on the decision. Some EU nations, such as Sweden and Denmark, have halted development aid to Palestinians, though humanitarian aid remains.

Israel has shown no signs of stopping its assault on Gaza as the war entered its sixth day on Thursday. Further damage to infrastructure and higher death tolls are expected.