The Palestinian resistance group Hamas said Wednesday that Israel's barring of Swiss officials from entering the blockaded Gaza Strip from Israeli territory is "inhuman." Hamas explained in a written statement that the ban was also a "violation" which prevented the Palestinian people from communicating with the world.
On Tuesday, Israel's Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman reportedly banned the officials from entering the Gaza Strip, according to Israeli media. The ban was issued over recent meetings between Swiss officials and members of Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, Israeli Channel Two reported.
According to the channel, Swiss representatives recently held talks with Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh and group leader in Gaza Yahya al-Sinwar. Hamas said Sinwar met Tuesday with Julian Toni, the Swiss ambassador to the Palestinian Authority, in Gaza. Two weeks ago, Haniyeh met with a Swiss delegation led by Swiss peace envoy Roland Stinger. Hamas called on the international community not to "surrender to Israeli terrorism."
Home to nearly two million Palestinians, the Gaza Strip has been reeling under a crippling Israeli blockade since Hamas seized control of the enclave in 2007. Israel and Egypt has kept the gates closed, citing security concerns. Under a constant blockade, Gaza does not have easy access to raw materials or basic needs due to an array of restrictions. In the latest crisis, the city suffered a severe lack of electricity. Due to the low energy supply, people inside Gaza predominantly rely on gasoline-fueled generators and solar panels. Hundreds of people recently held a protest against Israel and the PA, as international rights groups and the United Nations warned that there could be a total collapse of basic services. With only three hours of electricity available per day, the U.N. warned that half of Gaza's population is in need of immediate humanitarian aid.