‘There should be no frustrations for Rafah’

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German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has also asked Israel not to attack the Palestinian city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip, while on another trip to the Middle East to discuss the crisis.

“There should be no major disappointment in Rafah,” he said in Cairo on Monday after a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry.

“People cannot disappear,” he said after another round of talks amid the growing humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territories.

According to estimates, 1.5 million of the 2.2 million people living in the Gaza Strip are currently seeking refuge in Rafah from Israeli attacks on the beach.

Baerbock later met with the head of the Palestinian Authority (PA) governing the occupied West Bank, Mahmoud Abbasin Ramallah.

The German minister praised the president and the PA for clearly condemning the violence that took place on October 7 in Israel led by the Palestinian group Hamas. This “contributed significantly” to the decision of the UN Security Council to pass a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza for the first time, he said.

The most powerful United Nations was able to pass a resolution on Monday calling for an “immediate cessation of hostilities” in the Gaza conflict for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the release of all Israeli prisoners, after the US, Israel’s largest. ally, he decided not to use his veto power.

The number of Palestinians killed in Israeli attacks surpassed 30,000 last month, while thousands more were injured, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said. The actual death toll may be much higher.

Baerbock also stressed on Monday that air and sea aid would be of little help to Gaza. “What we want is to open up a freeway.”

The Israeli government has a responsibility to ensure the availability of food and water and safe evacuation routes, he said. The minister criticized Israel for not sufficiently distinguishing between armed forces and civilians.

According to Mr. Baerbock, this and the problems that people are involved in are increasing the fear in the Gaza Strip. “Prisoners will not be released while children in Gaza are now starving.”

The United Nations has warned of an imminent famine, with an estimated 1.1 million people in the Palestinian Authority at risk.

Later on Monday, Baerbock was scheduled to fly to Israel for what will be his sixth trip since the October 7 Hamas-led terror attack, in which nearly 1,200 people were killed.

Meeting between Baerbock and the Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz is scheduled for Tuesday.

On Sunday, the German minister called for Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas to join the ongoing talks in Qatar regarding the Gaza conflict and agree to a ceasefire.

Israeli Foreign Minister Katz responded on X: “We hope that our friends will continue to support Israel in these difficult times and that they will not weaken in the fight against the terrorist group Hamas.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue airstrikes on Rafah despite international concerns.

Although he continues to support Israel’s “right to self-defense” after the October 7 attack, Berlin has gradually increased its opposition to the actions of the Israeli army in Gaza, especially regarding the lack of aid reaching civilians.

Baerbock has been calling for an end to the war for several weeks, to facilitate the release of the survivors who were taken to Gaza on October 7 and to increase the number of aid donations on the coast.

After meeting with the Palestinian leader Abbas, Baerbock emphasized the need for the PA to have access to Gaza, and “the certainty that Gaza and, above all, the West Bank is one.”

In this context, the construction of new Israeli settlements in the West Bank is always opening “new opportunities and security risks,” said the German minister.

“This is hindering the cooperation between the two countries. This is disturbing the peace.”

He went on to encourage people who are violent to face the consequences.

According to media reports, the Israeli government has declared that 800 hectares of land in the West Bank is Israeli land, and hundreds of homes are to be built there. Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock gives a press statement at the Palestinian President's residence in Ramallah.  Christoph Soeder/dpa

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock gives a press statement at the Palestinian President’s residence in Ramallah. Christoph Soeder/dpa

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock gives a press statement in front of an Air Force Airbus A350 at Cairo International Airport before flying to Israel.  Christoph Soeder/dpaGerman Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock gives a press statement in front of an Air Force Airbus A350 at Cairo International Airport before flying to Israel.  Christoph Soeder/dpa

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock gives a press statement in front of an Air Force Airbus A350 at Cairo International Airport before flying to Israel. Christoph Soeder/dpa

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