An Irish delegation led by Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin has paid a visit to Gaza to better understand the kind of agony people endure daily in the impoverished coastal sliver.
The 10-member delegation arrived in the enclave via Egypt’s Rafah border crossing and was received by UN officials upon arrival on Thursday. During his stay, Martin visited hospitals, schools and areas destroyed in the 22-day Israeli onslaught on Gaza.
Furthermore, the Irish official asked for a cessation of activities in Israeli settlement activities in East Jerusalem Al-Quds and the West Bank. He called on Tel Aviv to put an end to its policy of forced expulsion and evacuation of Palestinian citizens from their occupied native territories.
Israeli authorities had previously denied Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin the permission to visit Gaza and no clear reason was specified for the refusal.
Israel has continued to close all border crossings to the Gaza Strip for more than two years. The illegal Israeli imposed blockade on the Gaza Strip, which has steadily tightened since 2007, has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the coastal enclave.
Some 1.5 million people located in one of the most densely populated areas in the world are being denied their basic rights, including the freedom of movement, the rights to suitable living conditions such as work, health and education. Poverty and unemployment rates stand at approximately 80% and 60% respectively in the Gaza Strip.
Three weeks of Israeli air strikes and a ground incursion into the Gaza between late December 2008 and early January 2009 resulted in the death of over 1400 people who were mainly women and children.
The carnage also inflicted more than USD 1.6 billion in damages on Gaza’s economy.