Following Hamas's renunciation of the cease-fire a few days ago and the continuing missile fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel, the Israeli army today began air attacks on Hamas targets in Gaza.
After a telephone conversation with his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni, Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier issued the following statement this evening (27 December):
"I am very concerned about the escalating violence in the Middle East. The Federal Government can in no way accept that Hamas has unilaterally renounced the cease-fire with Israel. Hamas must immediately and permanently stop the intolerable missile attacks on Israel!
We respect Israel's legitimate right to defend itself. At the same time I urge the Israeli side to respect the principle of proportionality in its military actions and to do all it can to avoid civilian losses.
It must be ensured that the humanitarian aid now urgently needed gets to the people in the Gaza Strip. I welcome the fact that Foreign Minister Livni has given assurances to that effect."
At the end of November, to supply the people of Gaza with the bare necessities, the Federal Foreign Office already increased its assistance to the Palestinians by a further 1 million euro. Next year the Federal Government will step up its support to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to 8 million euro.