Against the background of the ground operations initiated yesterday evening by the Israeli army in Gaza, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued the following statement in Berlin this morning (4 January):
"I'm very concerned about the further escalation of the hostilities. Any hope of a halt in the near future has thus become remote.
It is therefore all the more urgent that we work together with our partners to determine what the international community can do to help lay the groundwork for a ceasefire. This ceasefire must guarantee Israel's security on a durable basis. Not only will Hamas have to finally end its missile attacks but the smuggling of arms into the Gaza Strip will also have to be reliably prevented.
I call upon all sides to allow the humanitarian aid which the population needs so urgently to be supplied."
Federal Minister Steinmeier is in constant contact with the Czech EU Presidency regarding the current developments. Yesterday he talked on the phone with his British and Norwegian opposite numbers. Today he will speak with the Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni.