A European delegation to Palestine, which included three Sinn Féin MEPs, were refused access to Gaza from the Israeli government.
They are in Palestine as part of a four-day visit, where they will meet members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, as well as activists from both Palestinian and Israeli human rights and peace organisations.
The group were also planning to visit Gaza, but the decision by the Israeli government to deny them entry has been strongly condemned by the MEPs.
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson said: “The Israeli government refused us, 13 MEPs from 6 countries, 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 8-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.”
The MEPs begin their visit today in Jerusalem by meeting Israeli organisations including Rabbis for Peace, Breaking the Silence and Combatants for Peace.