ISRAELI AUTHORITIES REFUSE EU DELEGATION ENTRY INTO BESIEGED GAZA STRIP

erez-bordercrossing

Palestinians walk through the Erez border crossing with Israel in the northern Gaza Strip as they cross into Gaza, on June 09, 2010

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A European parliament delegation that attempted to enter the besieged Gaza Strip to assess the residual damage of Israel’s 2014 military offensive was denied entry by Israeli authorities on Wednesday.

 
According to a statement released by the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with Palestine, Israeli authorities told the group that their entry was denied owing to the fact that only humanitarian workers and diplomats accredited by the Israeli government or the Palestinian Authority (PA) are allowed access to Gaza, which has been held under an Israeli military blockade for a decade.
 
The statement noted that the delegation has been denied entry since 2011.
 
The delegation’s statement decried the decision to refuse them access to Gaza, saying that the decision was based on “arbitrary grounds” and that the Israeli explanation was “unacceptable.”
 
“We had hoped that that visit had ushered in a new more cooperative era, but this has not been the case… What is there to hide from us? Our positions are well-known,” the statement read.
 
The delegation went on to demand the return of the PA to the Gaza Strip. “We urge all Palestinian forces to resume efforts towards reconciliation without delay, building on the latest unity deal reached in January,” the chairman of the delegation Neoklis Sylikiotis said.
 
He also called on the international community “to put pressure on Israel” in order to end the crippling Israeli siege on the Palestinian territory.
 
“On the ground in Gaza our aim is to assess the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts to which the EU is the major donor. EU aid targets the promotion of employment and the poverty in Gaza. We are working to ensure the people in Gaza have access to basic necessities including potable drinking water, food, housing, and schools,” Sylikiotis added.
 
According to the statement, the delegation included Sylikiotis and four members of the European parliament: Margrete Auken (Denmark), Brando Benifei (Italy), Ivo Vajgl (Slovenia), and Angela Vallina (Spain).
 
The 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip caused the deaths of 2,251 Palestinians, 1,462 of them civilians, and 72 Israelis, five of them civilians, according to UN documentation.
 
A recent report adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in January stated that the humanitarian situation in Gaza had “significantly worsened” since 2014, adding that 17,650 families, amounting to some 100,000 people, were displaced by the conflict.
 
At least 142 Palestinian families have lost three or more members in attacks on residential buildings during the Israeli assault, the UN reported, adding that there were credible allegations that the incidents amounted to war crimes.
 
The Gaza Strip has suffered under an Israeli military blockade since 2007, when Hamas became the de facto ruling party in the territory.
 
Residents of Gaza suffer from high unemployment and poverty rates, as well as the consequences of three devastating Israeli military offenses since 2008.
 
The UN warned in 2015 that the besieged Palestinian territory could become “uninhabitable” by 2020 due to the ongoing Israeli military siege that has crippled Gaza’s economy and infrastructure for its some two million residents.
 
(Source / 22.02.2017)

Tags: ICC4Israel

Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police




The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives.

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