Israel Refuses Irish FM Permission to Visit Gaza

Israeli authorities deny Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin permission to visit the impoverished coastal sliver of Gaza which has long been under an Israeli siege.

Speaking at the Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs on Friday, Martin said no substantive reason had been given for the refusal.

"I just wanted to go in myself and see Gaza," he said according to the Irish Times newspaper.

Similar requests from other European countries had also been turned down.

The Irish Foreign Minister meanwhile described the humanitarian situation in Gaza as ‘completely unacceptable.’

"If progress is not realized quickly, then the international community as a whole may need to reconsider what further pressure it can bring in favor of achieving a negotiated, two-state settlement," Martin told the committee.

Israel has imposed a crippling siege on the Gaza Strip since.

The Israeli army also launched a massive military offensive, known as ‘Operation Cast Lead’ against the coastal sliver in December 2008 and January 2009. More than 1,400 Palestinians were killed during the three-week offensive, which inflicted $ 1.6 billion of damage to the Gazan economy.

“I am appalled by the indiscriminate attacks by Israeli forces which have resulted in so many civilian fatalities. The death and suffering, as well as the humanitarian deprivation, now being inflicted on the people of Gaza as a result of the continuation of the Israeli Operation Cast Lead cannot be justified in any way and must now be brought to an immediate end," Martin stated.

Martin also called on Tel Aviv to provide further clear evidence it was ‘serious about engaging in peace negotiations’ rather than being more preoccupied with ‘simply managing what could well escalate into a situation of incipient conflict.’

(Press TV)

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