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Israel denies EU delegation entry to Gaza
Published Friday 25/10/2013 (updated) 22/01/2014 10:58
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A file photo of the Erez, or Beit Hanoun, crossing between Israel
and the Gaza Strip.(MaanImages/file)

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli government on Wednesday denied an official European Union delegation entry to the Gaza Strip, claiming the visit would strengthen the ruling Hamas movement.

Six members of an EU Parliament delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council were due to visit Gaza from Oct. 27-30 in a trip largely focused on social, economic and humanitarian issues, including visits to UNRWA health centers, schools, food distribution centers, rehabilitation centers and sports clubs.

The MEPs, from a cross-section of political parties representing six EU member states, were informed in an email by Israeli authorities that they would not be allowed into Gaza via the Erez crossing for the three-day visit, which also included trips to Christian schools, a sports clubs and the University of Palestine.

Emer Costello, chair of the European Parliament's delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council, said she was "astounded and dismayed" by Israel's decision to refuse an official EU visit.

"Despite interventions by the President of Parliament and other distinguished Parliamentarians, the Israeli Authorities are preventing elected members of an official delegation from paying a humanitarian visit to this ravaged and impoverished little country," Costello said in a statement.

In an email to the delegation obtained by Ma'an, an Israeli diplomat in Europe responded that the delegation was denied entry "in line with the policy according to which Israel does not facilitate visits to the Gaza Strip which will strengthen Hamas, a terror organization designated as such also by the European Union."

The diplomat, David Saranga, also claimed in the message that Israel did not refuse an official visit of the EU delegation to Gaza but rather "refused the use of its territory to enter the Gaza Strip."

Costello said Israel's decision was "deplorable and without foundation," adding that she had requested that EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton take up the issue with Israeli authorities.

The individual members of the delegation will also raise the issue with the governments of their respective member states, she added.

'Punishment for EU guidelines'

Margrete Auken, a Danish MEP who was scheduled to take part in the trip, told Ma'an that the visit had originally been planned for last November but was canceled due to Israel's war on Gaza.

It was therefore "crucial for us to make it (this year) as Gaza is extremely isolated under the siege," Auken said, adding that she believes Israel denied the MEPs entry to Gaza in order to punish the EU for guidelines issued earlier this year banning member states from funding projects in settlements.

"I think the reason the Israeli government is doing this is to punish the EU for the guidelines on settlements. ... they want to get rid of them, but that of course will never happen," she said.

Other MEPs have expressed similar sentiments in private, according to a European Parliament official.

Auken said that the six MEPs were "furious" about the decision to cancel the visit.

"Israel is responsible for taking care of the people of Gaza and does not live up to the burden of democracy," she added.

The six MEPs are planning to meet with UNRWA officials on Sunday either in the West Bank or East Jerusalem in the event that Israel continues to refuse them access to Gaza.

Fatah's international relations committee released a statement condemning the incident and called on Israel to respect international law.

The EU guidelines forbid dealing with or funding Israeli entities that lie outside Israel proper and beyond the so-called 1967 Green Line -- that is, in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights.

They also require any future signed agreements to recognize that these areas are not part of Israel.
1 ) Arnold / Canada
25/10/2013 16:42
The EU has total access via the Egyptian / Gaza border. But that is not good enough for them. No ... they want want to go through Israel and make an example that Israel refuses their entry.

2 ) A?she / Netherlands
25/10/2013 16:54
One more reason for Europe to stick to their guidelines!

3 ) Maureen / Australia
25/10/2013 17:51
#1 Arnold, stop worrying, Israel does a fine job every day making a deplorable example of its inhumanity to the Palestinian people!

4 ) AKeenReader / UK
25/10/2013 17:53
# 1) Arnold/Canada... so what if they want to make a point. It confirms that if EU face difficulties what about ordinary Gaza citizens? They don't have the luxury of receiving prior email notifications of cancellations. Gazans don't even have a simple basic right of fishing or free movement. It's like as prison in Gaza. Arnold/ Canada, don't worry becuase the end of Israeli occupation is near with devasting impact on Israeli economy.

5 ) Carol Scheller / Switzerland
25/10/2013 17:53
How long will the powers that be (USA, Quartet, EU) permit the blocus of Gaza to continue without deciding on sanctions ? Only money talks.

6 ) Mark of Lewiston / USA
25/10/2013 18:08
Ask Egypt if Rafah is open to EU diplomats or if Egypt now takes Israeli orders.

7 ) Carlos / usa
25/10/2013 18:10
Egypt has been taken over by israeli goons who do not represent the Egyptian people.

8 ) HBendor / Israel
25/10/2013 18:56
I am responding to the Maan transgressing words There is no green line as this was an Armistice line in 1967, Judea and Samaria are not occupied since this points exactly to the property of Israel from time immemorial, the Golan was Part and Parcel of the Mandate when the Brits surreptitiously gave it away to the French Mandate of the Levant... and for all : Gaza is part of Israel notwithstanding your disgusting ranting.

9 ) HBendor / Israel
25/10/2013 19:13
I am responding to AKeenReader in the UK... you and your country have seeded a continuous turmoil in this world, and you are reaping what you have sown. Look at Africa, North Africa, India and so forth... FYI the Gaza Arabs are not indigenous to my country, they are ARABS and there are 22 Arab countries created this past century for their determination... Israel is one and we intend to keep it that way notwithstanding Ashton or Lawrence of Arabia.

10 ) Tobias / USA
25/10/2013 19:26
- The EU has Not been a friend to Israel lately (with it's settlement stance),
so it's delegation should Not have expected frienship from Israel, and
it should have planned to enter Gaza Egypt's Sinai from the start.
- In fact, the EU delegation should be turned away from Israel too.

11 ) Zainab / UK
25/10/2013 19:36
It was more likely the logistics of trying to both travel through Egypt & use the Rafah crossing, that made the EU delegation decide to attempt to enter Gaza via the Erez crossing instead. For those who are unaware, Egypt is still under a 'State of Emergency', there is still a (partial) night time curfew & Rafah is closed most of the time. It is unlikely that the EU delegation thought about 'making an example' of Israel for refusing them entry, although Israel made one of itself by default!

12 ) Jock Hewing / USA
25/10/2013 19:41
Perhaps the EU diplomats can use the tunnel that Hamas terrorists dug from Gaza into Israel.

13 ) Arnold / Canada
25/10/2013 20:05
keen / reader # 4. Let me put this into simple terms. There are 2 doors in the house called Gaza. One door opens into Israel. A hostile country with really mean people. The other door opens into Egypt. A wonderful country with people who just love the Gazans. Now if i was a Gazan I would just walk out the door into Egypt and say screw those Israelis. There is total freedom of movement from one end of Gaza to another. Just stay away from the Israelis. Access the world through Egypt. Simple ? Yes

14 ) andrew NY / USA
25/10/2013 20:09
Question, how often does Israel indicsreminently send bombs towards Palastinian children? Huh? How often does the head of Hamas say Israel needs to be eradicated, now or 50 or 100 years from now? Name one other UN recognized country that has that langauge thrown at them (add Iran and others to the list of who say Israel is a cancer, crusaders whatever). And you want us to feed them, arm them, make them safe and happy as they shell our towns and people. Look at what Syria and Egypt do.

15 ) Tibi / Tubas
25/10/2013 20:11
Gaza has there own crossing with Egypt, that involves No Zionist collaboration, so they should Not allow anything in from Israel's crossing.

16 ) Colin Wright / USA
25/10/2013 20:32
Israel's action does imply either that she asserts sovereignty over Gaza. It's hard to see on what else she could base her action.

17 ) Colin Wright / USA
25/10/2013 20:34
Re HBendor #9: ' FYI the Gaza Arabs are not indigenous to my country' This is a good example of just how divorced from reality the Zionist view of history is.

18 ) HBendor / Israel
25/10/2013 20:58
Responding to Jock Hewing / USA Your piece of humor should be taken up by the stage comedians... It is hilarious... God Bless... There is a simple solution to the Non Israeli Arabs populating Israel and the solution is across the frontier from Jordan and since the majority of Jordan Citizens are of Palestinian Arab stock... And, if the world wants to solve the problem and emulate Israel successes they have to ask Jordan to woe the rest of their people and offer them citizenship. The problem will

19 ) some one / some where
25/10/2013 23:30
HBendor / Israel: you truly describe British for so many years blackmail killing dishonest you name it and they are British is a major problem in the world and Buckingham is in front as long as British exist we will have this problem Iran is suffering now because of them to be an example they sink a ship with 800 Jewish is wwII

20 ) Lawyer / World
26/10/2013 05:04
Excellent, the EU is not a country but a bizarre bureaucracy pretending to represent someone when it represents no one and can not be held accountable by anyone in Europe or abroad. No country should let them in anywhere. Enough of this farce.

21 ) Broigas / Romania
26/10/2013 08:50
Let this anti - Jewish delegation travel though Egypt to enter Gaza, end of.

22 ) Greg / Australia
26/10/2013 13:15
Increasingly pro-fascist policies of European socialists can only lead to the collapse of Europe, which is already well in progress. Europeans would be much better off to visit their former colonies and ask the population of the extent of European racism, genocide and economic destruction of those countries.

23 ) Palestinian Brit / Palestine
26/10/2013 14:01
Come on Palestine.! Another excellent opportunity to show the world how Israel deals with Palestinian issues. The Occupier needs to be held to account. Sanctions would be an appropriate measure.

24 ) Gillian / Belgium
26/10/2013 14:06
@10 BRAVO! Spot on with your comments.

25 ) Seoigh / Ireland
26/10/2013 15:41
Greg/Australia and world lawyer fascists of Europe? You mean the ones that allow Israel to trade tariff free in the eurozone a right normally reserved for members? Tobias so let's tell the EU to stop allowing Israel to trade with it if that's how you feel? Hit you in the wallet, wouldn't like that now would ya? Broigas/Romania Israel is the occupying power over Gaza, it is right to have them travel through the occupying power country. Hbender less than 50% of Jordanians are of Palestinian stock.

26 ) HBendor / Israel
26/10/2013 16:04
Re Colin Wright / USA #17... I would sincerely ask you to open a book on history of the Middle East... Gaza was part of the Mandate for Palestine assigned to the Jewish people. We are two different peoples, two different Languages, two different cultures and two different goals/aspirations... Look at the word Arab does is not point to Arabian conquest of the seventh century? The Arabs from Arabia conquered Spain and ruled it 800 years, where are they today? hmmm

27 ) Robby / USA
26/10/2013 18:17
7 ) Carlos / usa - Egypt is a sovereign country that makes it's own decisions.

28 ) Niek Mooijaart / The Netherlands
26/10/2013 20:52

Childish War by Israel.

Treating PA and GAZA as slaves (Thora-allowed).

Too afraid to give GAZA a harbour, reason:money money money.

I . takes away growth economy GAZA and PA.

And so on.

29 ) Peter Hindrup / Australia
26/10/2013 23:58
So Israel once again proves to the world that it is a rogue state? What else is new? The question is when is the world going to put this criminal upstart back in its box?

30 ) southparkbear / usa
27/10/2013 10:07
maybe both israel and egypt should let the EU reps to use destroyed tunnels

31 ) Cananite from Ancient Palestin / USA
27/10/2013 10:36
Fascism is rearing its head through Israeli aggression and is supported by fascists in US. The Jews have forgotten their suffering at the hands of Fascists in Europe. What comes around goes around. Instead of this bullish-t support a multicultural, multi religious country where all citizens live as equal not based on privilege for one group. That group gets its privilege at the end of the barrel of their guns and endless wars of expansionist colonialist enterprise.

27/10/2013 10:46

33 ) Alexander / Greece
27/10/2013 13:22
As a European Union citizen I do NOT want my TAX money to be used to fund the occupation of Palestinian lands nor to support settlement activity (which is clearly illegal under international law) in the Occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem. It is about time for Israeli authorities to realise that Europeans may be tolerant but they are not fools and they know very well what is going on down there.

34 ) southparkbear / usa
27/10/2013 19:26
Hamas should work out an undersea tunnel to get all the visitors. they should pick Lampedusa as a starting point to save palestinians who try migrating to EU

35 ) Maureen / Australia
22/01/2014 22:08
HBendor Stop stealing Ancient Hebrew ID. Try tracing your real lineage - Khazar.

36 ) Outlier / USA
22/01/2014 23:58
Never piss off the neighbors. They have a way of getting even and they know where you live.

37 ) Mel / USA
23/01/2014 18:27
Imagine......."(Nazi Germany)denies(UN)delegation entry(to Warsaw Ghetto)"??
That would NEVER have been accepted. So if Berlin airlifts are good enough for USG &dropping Hershsey's chocolate bars on Eastern E

38 ) Mel / USA
23/01/2014 18:34
cont:dropping Hershey's chocolate bars was good enough for the USG capitalists,then why should Israel be allowed to DENY access through illegally OCCUPIED territory,to visit 1.8 MILLION civilians(1/2 being children)in blockaded Gaza. Everyone should head to Israel's occupied T's & demand access to witness Zionism's Gaza POW camp/ghetto & Jewish-only colonization.Especially now,after the coup in Egypt,with the junta taking sides with Israel's occupation/siege!

39 ) Rami / Palestine
24/01/2014 13:51
Great PR move Israel. Way to show that you're working to resolve the conflict through negotiations and peacebuilding. You did a damn fine job of convincing Germany and the rest of the EU not to blacklist you further.

40 ) EUnicorn / UK
25/01/2014 22:10
EU is not a real country. It is nothing but a corrupt bureaucracy. No nation should recognize it. Germany is a country, France is a country, the UK is a country, the EU is nothing. Good job Israel.

41 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
26/01/2014 09:30
#40 Spoken like a true Brit. You folks think you're better than the rest, don't you? Do I sense some resentment because the UK is not active in the EU? Lest we forget, that most of the problems in the world stemmed from you fine folks. Who was it that colonized Palestine before introducing the European Jews to the region? Of course that was you! God save the queen" indeed, she (and you) ain't no human being. I also blame you for British comedy...which, let's face it, is just the pits.
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