French President Francois Hollande on Thursday announced he was releasing exceptional aid worth USD 15 million for the Palestinian Authority to help with its budget difficulties and the need for humanitarian assistance.
Hollande's office announced the move after a meeting with NGOs working with the Palestinian population and mobilised for the Gaza crisis, where the Israeli military has carried out thousands of air, sea and land strikes for the past 16 days. In addition to the more than 700 dead and several thousand wounded, mostly civilians, the infrastructure in Gaza have been badly damaged and the economy is in shambles.
The French Presidency did not give details on how the financial assistance to the PA would be allocated, only saying it was to help with the current budgetary and humanitarian emergency.
Hollande also called for setting up a special fund to help finance significant projects between French localities and Palestinian areas, with the aim of helping the civilian population.
The French leader has been criticised here for early statements during the Gaza military operation, when he said in conversations with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that Israel should take "all measures" to protect its civilian population from attack by Hamas.
But Hollande neglected to mention the suffering and high cost being paid by Palestinian civilians who were being pummelled by Israeli strikes.
Hollande later tried to backtrack by saying he deplored the civilian deaths in Gaza, but the move was viewed as too late by many.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, however, has taken an increasing strong position on the Israeli strikes and called for an end to the "massacres" in Gaza, as well as urging Hamas stop rocket attacks against Israel.