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Israel prevents Belgian MPs from entering Gaza

The Israeli authorities have prevented six Belgian MPs from entering the Gaza Strip to visit NGOs and see for themselves the dire humanitarian situation and suffering of the Palestinians, reported on Wednesday.

The visit, which was scheduled on Tuesday, was pre-arranged with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). In a statement, the MPs criticised the “illegal” Israel measure and said it contravened international conventions. They pointed out that they had been invited by the Palestine Legislative Council as representatives of different political parties in Belgium.

In addition, the statement highlighted the fact that the Gaza Strip, the area of which is 360 km2, is part of the Palestinian state, and that around 1.8m Palestinians therein live under a siege imposed by Israel since 2007. The MPs mentioned the dire humanitarian crisis and the effects of the siege, which touch all aspects of life, as demonstrated by information provided by the UN.

The Belgian parliamentarians insisted that they would not keep quiet about the situation, and would inform the authorities in Brussels that the situation in Gaza is unacceptable. “Israel does not have the right to carry out this measure [ie preventing them from entering Gaza],” they insisted. “It is a clear violation of international conventions.”

Israel also prevented Belgium’s Development Cooperation Minister Charles Michel from visiting Gaza in 2010, when Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon claimed, “Your visit will only bolster Hamas and legitimise it.”

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