Israel has barred 13 European Parliament MPs from visiting Gaza during a four-day fact-finding visit to Palestine and Israel that started on September 4.
The MEPs were from European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) group in the European parliament. They met members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament), as well as activists from both Palestinian and Israeli human rights and peace groups.
The group included three MEPs from Irish republican group Sinn Fein, three from new radical Spanish party Podemos, two from Cyprus's Progressive Party of Working People, and one from Spain's Plural Left, Bildu in the Basque Country, Portugal's Left Bloc and the Communist Party of Portugal.
The MEPs strongly condemned the Israeli government’s refusal to let them see the needs of the people of Gaza first hand after Israel's devastating blitz inflicted on the tiny, impoverished and largely defenceless territory.
GUE/NGL and Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson said: “The Israeli government refused us entry into Gaza on the grounds that our visit to the region is ‘not directly concerned with the provision of humanitarian assistance’.
“This is beyond irony considering that the horrific and harrowing humanitarian situation in Gaza is a direct result of Israel's 53-day military attack on the Gaza Strip, which resulted in 2145 fatalities, including 581 children, not to mention Israel’s eight-year blockade of the region.
“We want to go to Gaza to assess the situation on the ground first-hand. This would have enabled us to relay that information back to the European Parliament and push for greater provision of EU humanitarian aid to Gaza and an end to the blockade and occupation.
“We call on the Israeli authorities to overturn this decision and grant us access.”
[Abridged from An Phoblacht.]