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Sinn Fein's Martina Anderson is barred from Gaza

By PA Reporters

A Sinn Fein MEP leading a delegation on a fact-finding mission to Gaza has accused the Israeli government of denying them access to the region.

Martina Anderson and 12 other European MEPs criticised the decision by the Israeli authorities.

The former IRA member, who was jailed during the Troubles for bombing offences, also called on Israel to overturn the decision and grant access.

"The Israeli government refused us, 13 MEPs from six countries, entry into Gaza on the grounds that our visit to the region is 'not directly concerned with the provision of humanitarian assistance'," she said.

"This beggars belief considering that the horrific and harrowing humanitarian situation in Gaza is a direct result of Israel's 53-day military attack on the Gaza Strip. This resulted in 2,145 fatalities, including 581 children, not to mention Israel's eight-year blockade of the region.

"We want to go to Gaza to assess the situation on the ground first-hand.

"This would have enabled us to relay that information back to the European Parliament and push for greater provision of EU humanitarian aid to Gaza and an end to the blockade and occupation."

The European Parliament representatives are on a four-day visit to Israel and Palestine in the wake of the recent violence in the coastal enclave.

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