After delays, Finnish FM allowed into Gaza, Jordanian soccer team excluded
Since Israel’s 2008 invasion of Gaza only selected officials – including EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon – have visited Gaza via Israel
GAZA — Finland’s Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb landed Thursday morning in the Gaza Strip after several days of Israel denying him entry.
Palestinian sources said Stubb was allowed to pass over the Beit Hanoun crossing on his way to the Gaza Strip, where he will convene several meetings with international bodies, businessmen, and Palestinian figures. He will also visit war-devastated areas in the Strip.
The Foreign Minister is set on visiting sites devastated by the Israeli army in the northern Gaza Strip to be briefed on the extent of devastation the war had on Gaza. More than 20,000 homes and the Strip’s main infrastructure were ruined in the attack.
Israeli authorities denied the FM’s request to visit Gaza a few days back, alleging that similar visits could constitute recognition of Hamas.
In a separate development, a professional Jordanian soccer team was denied entry into Gaza by Egyptian authorities.
Tariq Khouri, head of the Wihdat Sports Club in Jordan, said he requested more than 50 days ago entry visas from the Egyptian embassy in Amman so the team could head to Gaza through the Egyptian Rafah crossing. But so far Egyptian authorities have made no response.
Khouri said the purpose of the visit was to bust the four-year blockade on the Gaza Strip.
The soccer team was supposed to play against the Gaza sports club and a number of local teams in the Strip.