Monday, 1 June 2015

German FM calls for lifting of Gaza blockade during visit

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. more

Activists mark 5 years since Israeli flotilla attack

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Activists in Gaza City on Sunday marked five years since Israel's deadly attack on the first Freedom Flotilla in 2010, a day after the ship leading Freedom Flotilla III arrived in the port of Bueu in Spain en route to Gaza.

Israeli naval forces killed nine activists On May 31, 2010 after they stormed six ships intending to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The incident took place in international waters and sparked international outcry.

Sunday's commemoration ceremony was organized by Miles of Smiles, an international Gaza aid campaign, and was attended by dozens of activists.

The participants held up photos of the victims of the first flotilla and chanted slogans demanding freedom for Gaza and Palestine.

They then sailed a short distance off the coast and threw roses into the water in honor of the victims, also raising the flags of the countries participating in the current flotilla.

In a press conference in Gaza port, a spokesperson for Miles of Smiles, Ali al-Nazli, said the commemoration was part of ongoing efforts to end the blockade of Gaza.

"We are here to say to Marmara martyrs," he said, referring to the Turkish ship aboard which the activists were killed, "we won’t forget you…and history won’t forget you."

He also applauded the president of Miles of Smiles, Issam Yousuf, "who has been touring the capitals of the world to recruit support for Gaza and Palestine."

A trawler leading the third Freedom Flotilla arrived in Spain on Saturday after setting sail from Sweden earlier this month. The ship, called the Marianne, will join other ships heading to Gaza in "a peaceful, nonviolent action to break the illegal and inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip," according to the Freedom Flotilla Coalition. more