German minister visits Gaza, demands end of blockade
German Development Minister Dirk Niebel on Tuesday urged Israel to fully lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip and Palestinian militants to stop firing rockets into southern Israel, DPA reported.
"It's so important to have a permanent ceasefire and it's so important that Israel completely ends the blockade," he told a news conference at the Gaza City headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA), which aids Palestinian refugees.
Only that way, Niebel said, "we can start reconstruction of Gaza."
Israel in June last year eased its restrictions on the entry of goods into Gaza. But exports remain highly restricted, as do the entry of raw materials such as concrete and textiles - defined by Israel as "dual-use" items because militants can use them to build weapons.
The German minister also said Berlin would contribute 3 million euros to building schools in Gaza.
Niebel welcomed the Palestinian reconciliation pact, endorsed by the rival Hamas and Fatah movements in Cairo last month, calling it an "important step" towards the two-state solution.
"Germany will judge the new government according to its acts," he said.
He was later scheduled to visit a sewage water purification plant in Gaza, which Germany is renovating at a cost of 20 million euros.