Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said his country was committed to supporting the embattled Gaza Strip and ending Israel's eight-year blockade of the Palestinian enclave.
Spain is also committed to supporting reconstruction efforts in Gaza, Garcia-Margallo told a joint press conference in Gaza City alongside Pierre Krahenbuhl, head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).
"We are working on lifting the [Israeli] siege on Gaza to enable people to live in dignity. We are also committed to supporting the reconstruction drive," the foreign minister said.
Garcia-Margallo arrived in the strip earlier Tuesday through the Erez crossing with Israel for an hours-long visit to the coastal territory. During his brief stay, he visited a UNRWA-run school that is sheltering families displaced by Israel's devastating 51-day summer offensive.
Krahenbuhl, for his part, said that many Gazans felt "disappointed and frustrated" by the slow pace of reconstruction.
"There are 15,000 Palestinians who are still sheltered in UNRWA schools waiting for their homes to be rebuilt. This has led to disappointment," he said.
During Israel's seven-week military onslaught, 15,671 housing units were damaged across the Gaza Strip, including 2,276 that were totally destroyed, according to official Palestinian figures.
Last July and August, more than 2,160 Gazans, mostly civilians, were killed – and another 11,000 injured – during seven weeks of unrelenting Israeli attacks.
The Israeli offensive finally ended on August 26 with the announcement of an indefinite cease-fire with Palestinian resistance factions.
Following the cease-fire, Robert Serry, the UN's special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, unveiled plans to impose strict oversight on the use of construction material in Gaza.
At a donor conference held in Cairo last October, 50 countries pledged a total of $5.4 billion to the Palestinian government, half of which was earmarked for the devastated strip's reconstruction.