Gaza Action Ireland Press Release
Chris Andrews blocked from attending Patrick’s Day party in Jerusalem FORMER TD Chris Andrews has been invited to Alan Shatter’s Palestinian St Patrick’s Day party – but it appears he won’t be able to go, because Israel won’t let him travel from Gaza to Jerusalem and back again.
Mr Andrews, a Fianna Fail TD in Dublin South East from 2007 to 2011, has been working for the respected Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza City since shortly after Christmas. A week ago he received an official invitation from Ireland’s representative to the Palestinian Authority, inviting him to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Jerusalem in the company of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr Shatter.Mr Shatter is attending the event tomorrow evening [Wed March 13] in the middle of his five-day visit to Israel.
“I was surprised to get the invitation, to be honest,” Mr Andrews said from Gaza today. “The Department of Foreign Affairs knows the restrictions that apply on travelling in and out of Gaza – but I thought maybe they were organising an exception for those of us based here,” he said. “It’s only about 50 miles across Israeli territory, but Palestinians are never permitted to make that journey. Only a few international officials and aid workers from the largest NGOs are allowed to do so,” he added.
A Department of Foreign Affairs official told Mr Andrews that while he and at least one other Irish person in Gaza might be permitted to exit Gaza through the Israeli crossing at Erez, Irish officials would not be able to secure permission from Israel for them to return to Gaza.
Mr Andrews entered Gaza 12 weeks ago via the border crossing with Egypt at Rafah, the southernmost point of the small, besieged Palestinian strip. “This illustrates the sad reality for the people of Gaza,” Mags O’Brien of Gaza Action Ireland said. “Students cannot attend university in the West Bank, and families cannot visit relatives, highlighting the fact that Gaza is indeed an open-air prison.”
In recent weeks Israel has tightened its grip on Gaza by restricting crossings by people at Erez and by reducing the flow of desperately needed goods into the territory. Israel has killed four Palestinians in Gaza and wounded more than 90 since the “ceasefire” agreement that ended last November’s war.