Israel accused over Gaza mission
A Euro MP leading a delegation of colleagues on a fact finding mission to Gaza has accused the Israeli government of denying them access to the region.
Sinn Fein Northern Ireland MEP Martina Anderson and 12 other European MPs, from five other countries, criticised the decision by the authorities in Israel.
The European parliament representatives are on a four day visit to Israel and Palestine in the wake of the recent violent conflict in Gaza.
Mrs Anderson, a former IRA member who was jailed during the Northern Ireland Troubles for bombing offences, is a fierce critic of Israeli policy on Gaza.
"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.
"We call on the Israeli authorities to overturn this decision and grant us access."