More than 20 senior European diplomats visited Gaza on Tuesday, calling for the Israeli blockade on the coastal enclave to be lifted.
Ambassadors from the 22 European Union states visited to assess the state of Gaza’s reconstruction in a trip organized and led by the EU.
It was the first such delegation since late 2014, which took place after that summer’s 50-day war with Israel. The conflict, which erupted after rockets from the Gaza Strip targeted Israeli cities, is said to have killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, many of them civilians, according to Palestinian sources in the Hamas-run Strip; and 73 Israelis, including 66 soldiers. Israel said about half of those killed in Gaza were combatants and blamed Hamas for all civilian casualties, since the terror group placed military infrastructure in residential areas.
Ralph Tarraf, head of the EU delegation to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, urged Israel to end the blockade on Gaza, calling for “steps to bring about a political, security and economic change.”
He said all sides should work toward “ending the closure, taking into account the legitimate security concerns of the Gaza Strip’s neighbors.”
Israel says the security blockade is necessary to keep Hamas, a terrorist organization avowedly committed to destroying Israel, from bringing material into Gaza that could be used for terrorist and military purposes.
UN officials say such actions are collective punishment and have repeatedly called for the blockade to be eased or lifted.
The EU provides around $330,000 million (300 million euros) to the Palestinian people annually, with almost half of this going to Gaza, a spokesman said.