Sderot Media Center recently sent formal letters to representatives of member countries of the European Union, asking the European Union to help Sderot and southern Israelis rebuild their lives after the recent Gaza war. “Given the mandate of the EU to help civilians in the Gaza war zone rebuild their lives, the time has come for the EU to help fund agencies in Sderot that seek to strengthen the mental heath and social functionality of ordinary Sderot civilians who need psychological aid in order to continue life under rocket terror,” the letter stated.
Two embassies have responded thus far to the letter, which was sent on Thursday, March 26.
Alvaro Iranzo, the Ambassador of Spain to Israel, was the first to answer the letter, stating to Sderot Media Center that:
“You can rest assured that the European Union and Spain in particular were aware of the difficult situation lived by Israeli communities around the Gaza Strip, and we have condemned repeatedly the launching of rockets against the civilian population. I will forward your letter to the central authorities.”
Roelof Buffinga, Deputy Head of Mission from the Netherlands Embassy wrote on behalf of the Netherlands Ambassador:
“I wish to express the sincere sympathy of the Netherlands Embassy with the plight of he people of Southern Israel, including Sderot, caused by the rocket attacks by Hamas. We appreciate the importance of initiatives to ease the burden put on the civilians of Sderot as put forward in your letter, and we understand the deep impact the attacks have on children and adults alike…We will support your call for help in the regular meetings we have with the other EU member states.”
On February 4, Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, asked that the European Union in the European Parliament in Strasbourg to send international forces to Gaza. “The time has come for the international community to bear its legal, political and moral responsibilities and provide… adequate international protection,” Abbas said.
However, the European Parliament President, Hans-Gert Poettering insisted that Hamas renounce terrorism and stop launching rocket attacks against Israel, although he said the EU was anxious to help.
“We want to be a fair partner for the people in Palestine and the people in Israel,” Poettering said. The European Union announced on January 26, that it would be providing $74.3 in humanitarian aid to Palestinians in 2009. Approximately $43 million of that amount is earmarked to Gaza.
Amid sharp criticism of Israel during Operation Cast Lead, EU Aid Commission, Louis Michel has stated that “firing rockets at civilians is a terrorist action. Hamas is a terrorist movement and it has to be denounced as such.”
No EU funds to date have been appropriated to Israeli civilians devastated by Hamas rockets during the recent war or to Sderot and western Negev residents who have been targeted for eight years by rockets– under both the Fatah and Hamas governments.
*DeutscheWelle.de contributed to this report.
Photo: Anav Silverman
Sderot home damaged in January 2009 during Gaza war.