Israel Bars Belgian Minister Way into Gaza

A Belgian minister, barred by Israel from visiting the Gaza Strip, has declared that he will take the matter to the European Union.

Israel on Sunday prevented Belgian Cooperation and Development Minister Charles Michel from going to the Gaza Strip on the grounds that his visit would give legitimacy to the Islamic Hamas movement running the territory.

Michel protested that Israel’s action was "unacceptable."

"These kinds of visits can only strengthen Hamas and give it legitimacy," AFP quoted Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon as saying.

Israel, supported by Egypt, has sealed Gaza off since Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2007.

Belgium has pledged funds for building schools in Gaza but construction has not yet begun due to the Israeli siege.

Last week, Amnesty International slammed both Israel and Egypt for the siege, saying that they are "collectively punishing" the population of Gaza.

Israel launched a disproportionate offensive against the Gaza Strip last year, killing at least 1,400 people, many of them women and children.

(Press TV)

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