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Anti-siege group condemns decision to bar German from Gaza

June 20, 2010 8:35 P.M. (Updated: June 21, 2010 1:03 P.M.)
Gaza - Ma’an - Eight European parliamentarians, including German Development Aid Minister Dirk Niebel, were denied entry into Gaza by the Israeli army on Sunday.

Niebel was scheduled to visit the German-financed wastewater treatment plant in Gaza, the German-language news site Spiegel Online Politik reported. The news site said talks with Israeli officials over Niebel's visit had continued to the last moment.

Niebel told the German TV program Heute (Today), earlier in the week, that "Sometimes the Israeli government does not make it easy for its friends to explain why it behaves the way it does."

The Gaza-based campaign against the siege strongly denounced the move preventing the politicians entry, considering it a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The decision by the Israeli army coincided with reports in the German press that the country’s parliament would issue a cross-party demand that Israel allow humanitarian aid to reach Gaza by sea, according to the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz.

"Israel's Gaza blockade is effectively a blockade of the United Nations," the foreign spokeswoman for German party the Greens, Kerstin Mueller, told the German daily newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, adding: "This is unacceptable."

Following Israel's 31 May attack on an aid boat headed to Gaza which left nine civilians dead, Israel has been under pressure to lift its three-year blockade of Gaza. In an apparent response to public pressure, the government cabinet announced on Sunday that it would let in all items deemed “not for military use,” but did not provide a list of what would be barred.

Responding to the initial announcement from Israel’s security cabinet on Thursday, Niebel called the move "inadequate," since it did not constitute a total end to the siege, and added that Israel must "now deliver" on its pledge.

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