Israel's refusal to grant MEPs entry to Gaza has been condemned by GUE/NGL in the strongest possible terms.

GUE/NGL MEPs Martina Anderson and Neoklis Sylikiotis, who are taking part in a cross-political delegation of MEPs to Palestine, were held for questioning for over two hours in Tel Aviv airport yesterday before being told that they would not be able to visit Gaza – with no justification given to explain the refusal.

The official delegation, which was set to visit Gaza today, aimed to assess the extent of destruction after the 2014 war and identify areas in dire need of public services.

Irish MEP Martina Anderson, the chair of the Delegation, commented: “It is unacceptable that an official EU delegation to Palestine has been denied entry to inspect the humanitarian situation and the destruction in Gaza given that the EU is the largest donor of finance to Palestinians. Despite stating clearly that the remit of this delegation was to identify areas in dire need of vital public services such as schools, health centres and food distribution centres, with a purely social, economic and humanitarian focus, we continue to be blocked.”

In September 2014, a previous delegation of 13 GUE/NGL MEPs was denied entry to Gaza.

Cypriot MEP Neoklis Sylikiotis said: “These are blatant attempts to deter us from our mission but we will take this opportunity to visit East Jerusalem which has been experiencing a lot of tension over the last year particularly over illegal settlements, house demolitions and access to the Al Aqsa compound. We will also meet UNRWA representatives. We will continue our fight to free Gaza and end Israel's illegal apartheid.”

Anderson concluded: “Refusing MEPs entry to Gaza has become a worrying trend. What is Israel so keen to hide from the world?”

The other MEPs on the delegation are Margrete Auken (Greens/EFA, Denmark) and Edouard Martin (S&D, France).

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