Representatives from the European Union and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) have arrived in Gaza for an eyewitness account of the situation in the Palestinian territories.
Eighteen European parliamentarians entered the Gaza Strip on late Friday through the Rafah crossing on Egypt’s border for talks with Hamas leaders and to have a closer look at the brewing crisis in the occupied Palestinian territories, Ma’an news agency reported on Sunday.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has undertaken the task of coordination for the European MP’s visit.
The European politicians are scheduled to visit hospitals, schools and areas battered as a result of Israeli’s attack on the Gaza Strip in December of 2008 to January of 2009.
The Israeli attack claimed the lives of more than 1,400 Palestinians, most of them civilians.
Many world countries, including the UN Human Rights Council has harshly criticized Tel Aviv for failing to launch an investigation into the alleged war crimes committed by Israeli forces during its assault on the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, a separate delegation of the OIC, headed by its humanitarian director, Fouad Meznay, arrived in Gaza on Sunday as part of a four-day tour of the Palestinian territories.
A group of specialist surgeons and doctors, who will treat patients in the Strip, are accompanying the OIC’s delegation during the visit.
The visit comes as UNRWA says that "about 80 percent of the Gaza population depends on assistance from UN agencies as unemployment has soared [to] above 40 percent."
Just as officials in the Gaza Strip were greeting their foreign guests on Sunday, the Israeli forces shot and wounded four Palestinians, including a 15-year-old, in the town of Beit Hanun in the north of the coastal sliver.
They were reportedly scavenging for food in an effort to cope with Tel Aviv’s siege.
Tel Aviv has continued to close all border crossings to the Gaza Strip for more than 3 years.
The illegal Israeli-imposed blockade on the Gaza Strip, which has been steadily tightened since June 2007, has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the coastal enclave.