Former Irish President Mary Robinson, chairing a delegation of global Elders visiting the Gaza Strip, has called the situation in the territory "shocking."
“I was last here in 2008, just before the Gaza war. The situation has deteriorated to a shocking extent since then," she said during the visit, The Irish Times reported on Monday.
The delegation, which also includes former Indian parliamentarian Ela Bhatt and former Algerian Foreign Minister Lakhdar Brahimi, met Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya on Saturday.
Following the meeting, Robinson said that Hamas should not be excluded from the Palestinian-Israeli talks.
The Elders strongly criticized the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip, which has been in place since 2007.
“It is unconscionable and unacceptable that Israel and the international community have not lifted the blockade fully to allow Gazans to rebuild their lives and be part of the interconnected world that we take for granted,” Robinson declared.
Former US President Jimmy Carter is set to join the remainder of the Elders’ tour, with planned meetings in Damascus, Amman, and the West Bank.
The Elders is an independent group of prominent world leaders founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007 to support peace building and help address major causes of human suffering.