Norway Foreign Minister Børge Brende in Gaza

Foreign Minister Børge Brende visited the Gaza Strip yesterday, two weeks after the ceasefire. 

Børge Brende  becomes the first international leader to Gaza to see the devastation after the Israeli offensive. 

– There is a dramatic situation for almost 2 million people in Gaza, said Brende before his departure. Arriving in a city of great destruction, he was met by strong impression. 

– It hurts especially thinking of the children in the street, he said. 

Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip caused over 100,000 people displaced and, according to the Palestinian Authority, 18,000 buildings have been totally destroyed and 40,000 have been partially damaged. The Palestinian Authority says it will cost $ 7.8 billion to rebuild. 

Brende will lead the international donor meeting together with Egypt for Palestine in New York this September. 

But after three wars in a few years he stresses that the development and future of the Gaza Strip must be ensured while reconstruction takes place. 

– You can not rebuild it to be destroyed again in a year or two, he said. 

Brende called Israel to lessen strict blockade of Gaza.

The negotiations for a permanent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas must contain “real opportunities for Gaza and Palestinians to create a dignified life,” he emphasizes. 

Brende also met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before leaving for Gaza on Monday. 

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