The German foreign minister called Monday for Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza in return for Palestinian security reassurances during a visit to the beleaguered coastal enclave.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrived in Gaza on Monday at the head of a delegation of 60 German officials intending to review several projects as well as recent developments in the blockaded and war-torn enclave.
During a press conference in Gaza’s seaport, he said that the enclave is in need of economic aid and investment that would only come if Israel opened the crossings.
He added, however, that opening the crossings would be difficult to achieve if rockets were still being fired from Gaza into Israel.
The German foreign minister said that security was the condition for human development.
Palestinian officials in the liaison office told Ma’an that the Gazan population continues to suffer as “real” reconstruction has not yet started.
Earlier this month, Germany announced a $41 million contribution to the UNRWA shelter assistance program in Gaza.
With a total contribution of $93 million to UNRWA programs in Gaza to date, Germany is currently the second largest supporter of the UNRWA response to the humanitarian crisis resulting from last summer’s devastating war between Israel and Hamas.
UNRWA director in Gaza, Robert Turner, praised the move by Germany saying: “More than eight months after the summer 2014 conflict ended, the situation in Gaza remains desperate and the people of Gaza urgently need other donors to follow the excellent example set by Germany.”
The German Foreign Office describes itself as having “a longstanding commitment to the Palestinian territories.”
It adds: “The German Government is one of the largest bilateral donors, with support focusing on the areas of water, economic development, public safety (police), governance and education.”
(Ma’an – www.maannews.net)