Blair Helps Sinn Fein Leader Enter Gaza

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GAZA STRIP - European Union Middle East envoy Tony Blair helped Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams meet with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in the Gaza Strip.

According to The Jerusalem Post, Blair convinced Defense Minister Ehud Barak to allow Adams to enter the Gaza Strip to meet with Hamas leaders there.

Blair argued that Adams' experience as a mediator would serve to open dialogue between Hamas and the Israeli government.

British papers quoted Adams calling Gaza "an open-air prison" and assuring Haniyeh that Sinn Fein supports the Palestinian people.

"Most of the Irish people support the Palestinians and are interested in the situation in Palestine," Adams said.

"Mr. Haniyeh told me that Hamas wants a peace agreement," he said.

Haniyeh told the Sinn Fein head that Israel achieved nothing in its three-week military operation in Gaza, other than "killing innocent men, women, children and police officers."

An estimated 300 noncombatants and 800 Hamas terrorists were killed during the operation, Maj.-General Yoav Galant, head of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) Southern Command said last week.

Hamas's use of civilians as human shields, along with using mosques, hospitals, schools and residential neighborhoods for weapons warehouses, explosives labs, and attacking IDF troops accounted for the deaths of innocent bystanders.

Adams traveled to Ramallah on Friday to meet with Fatah-affiliated officials in the Palestinian Authority.

Last week, the Israeli government announced that its leaders would not meet with Adams if he chose to meet with Hamas.

Sources: Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post

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