( dpa ) - European Union Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner on Monday called for an end to Israel's fuel blockade of Gaza, describing it as a case of "collective punishment."
"The recent decision to close all border crossings into Gaza as well as to stop the provision of fuel will exacerbate an already dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and risks escalating an already difficult situation on the ground," Ferrero-Waldner said in a statement.
"Cutting the supply of fuel jeopardizes the electricity production and the supply of clean water ... I am against this collective punishment of the people of Gaza. I urge the Israeli authorities to restart fuel supplies and open the crossings for the passage of humanitarian and commercial supplies," she said.
In her statement, Ferrero-Waldner stressed that the EU "fully understands Israel's need to defend itself" and condemned the spate of rocket attacks on Israel which prompted the border closure.
However, she also called for a return to dialogue between the parties.
"Neither the blockade nor the recent military strikes are able to prevent the rocket attacks. Only a credible political agreement this year, as foreseen at Annapolis, can turn Palestinians away from violence," she said.