GAZA, - Palestinian sources reported that Israeli authorities prevented an official delegation from Germany headed by German minister of development Dirk Niebel along with seven German MPs from entering the Gaza Strip on Sunday.
The German government has criticized Israel’s refusal to allow the German minister and his entourage to enter the Gaza Strip.
Niebel also criticized its decision in an interview published on Sunday by Leipziger Volkszeitung, describing it as "a big mistake in foreign policy committed by the Israeli government."
German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, expressed his "sorrow for the decision by the Israeli government," stressing that Berlin, like all European Union countries is looking forward to end the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.
The German Foreign ministry declared in a statement that "the government, including Westerwelle with his Israeli counterpart, has repeatedly pledged that this visit will take place."
Dirk Niebel commented that the siege imposed on Gaza "is not a sign of strength, but it reflects hidden fear." He expressed full support of the German House of Representatives’ decision "to intensify political pressure on Israel."
In turn, the International Palestinian Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza strongly denounced Israel’s decision, and described it as “an Israeli violation of the fourth Geneva Convention and international humanitarian law.”
The campaign called on the German minister and all international officials to not comply with Israel’s prohibition, and to take diplomatic and political measures in ensuring their access to the Strip.
The campaign called on the international community and organizations to immediately intervene to completely break the blockade on the Gaza Strip and enable the Palestinian people to live freely and redevelop the area.
Israeli authorities justified the decision to prevent the German delegation’s entry with its fear that Hamas would benefit from such visits in publicity for itself, "which would weaken the influence of Mahmoud Abbas’s moderate leadership in the West Bank".
An Israeli official said in an interview with a German news agency that “states sending their officials to Gaza would lead to a lasting movement which Hamas would exploit in strengthening its existence, and may lead to the normalization of Hamas’s relationship with the international community."