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Germen FM calls for removal of Gaza blockade

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (C) looks on during a press conference at the sea port in Gaza City, on June 1, 2015. (AFP)

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has called for the removal of Israel’s eight-year-long blockade on the Gaza Strip.

More action to rebuild and improve Gaza's troubled economy “requires the opening of crossing points," said Steinmeier during a rare visit to Gaza on Monday.

Removing the blockade will also decrease the risk of renewed escalation in the region, he noted.

“The troubled situation in Gaza demands of us to think about concrete steps to improve daily life there — without which, I am afraid, the situation is escalating,” he added.

A Palestinian woman walks amid the rubble of buildings destroyed during Israel’s 50-day war on the Gaza Strip in 2014, in the village of Khuza'a, east of Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip , on June 1, 2015.(AFP)

During his trip, Steinmeier visited areas destroyed by Israeli fire in eastern Gaza and inaugurated an expansion at a UN school.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (2L) shakes hands with a man at a United Nations-run school in Gaza City on June 1, 2015. (AFP)

Gaza has been blockaded by Israel since 2007, a situation that has caused a decline in the standard of living, unprecedented levels of unemployment, and unrelenting poverty.

The 1.8 million Palestinians of the Gaza Strip are living in what is called the world's largest open-air prison as Israel retains full control of the airspace, territorial waters, and border crossings of the territory.

Nearly 2,200 Palestinians, including 577 children, were killed in Israel’s 50-day onslaught. Over 11,100 others -- including 3,374 children, 2,088 women and 410 elderly people -- were also injured.

Israel started its latest war on the Gaza Strip in early July last year. The offensive ended on August 26, 2014 with a truce that took effect after indirect negotiations in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.


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