Belfast Telegraph

Gerry Adams 'refused entry to Gaza'

Gerry Adams has said he has been refused entry into Gaza by the Israeli authorities.

The Sinn Fein president is on a three-day visit to Israel and Palestine.

Yesterday, he met Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas for an hour of talks in Ramallah in the West Bank.

However he said plans to travel to the Gaza enclave had been stymied.

He added: "The decision by the Israeli authorities to refuse me entry into Gaza is deeply disappointing, particularly as I was able to spend two days there in 2009.

"My purpose on this visit has been to listen. Primarily I am here to learn. When asked I have also outlined the broad strategic approach Sinn Fein took to the Irish peace process.

"Central to our success has been the imperative of dialogue. But it also required participants to take risks for peace and to be prepared to try and understand other points of view.

"Preventing me from travelling to a Gaza and talking to those citizens who have survived three Israeli assaults in the last decade, and who are besieged and in need of massive aid to rebuild their shattered economy and society, runs contrary to the needs of a peace process and is very unhelpful."

Mr Adams met with Issac Herzog, leader of Israel's opposition Labour Party and said he had planned while in Gaza to visit NGO's, hospitals and other public institutions.

Sinn Fein strongly supports the Palestinian cause and has organised demonstrations against earlier wars in Gaza.

Their leader added: "The Israeli decision is a reminder of the imperative of supporting the Palestinian efforts to secure UN and international recognition of the Palestinian state. That campaign has seen some success in recent months and next month it will be debated in the European Parliament.

"It is also in a small way a reminder of the apartheid system that now applies."

This past summer many Israelis - from the small southern city of Sderot to the coastal metropolis of Tel Aviv - lived under regular rocket attacks from the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza.

Attacks surged after Israel launched an offensive to restore quiet. During the operation, more than 4,500 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel, killing some civilians, wounding scores and sending residents fleeing to shelters.

More than 2,100 Palestinians - mostly civilians, according to the UN - were also killed during the conflict.

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