On Monday, 3 November, 2008, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) received a delegation from the European Parliament (EP) at its office in Gaza City. The delegation included European Parliamentarian Kyriacos Triantaphyllides, and EP Vice President Louisa Morgantini.
Hamdi Shaqqura, Head of PCHR Democratic Development Unit, received the delegation, and briefed them on the current situation in the Gaza Strip. He stressed the importance of the EP visit, and the general deterioration of the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, particularly the Gaza Strip.
PCHR attributes the deteriorating human rights situation to three main factors: the continuing Israeli occupation, including the illegal siege of the Gaza Strip, the international boycott and sanctions imposed on Palestinian civilians by the international community, and the internal fighting and subsequent fragmentation of the Palestinian political system..
Regarding the boycott and sanction being applied against the Palestinian population, PCHR notes that this not only sets a historic precedent of punishing a population under occupation, but also rewards the Occupying Power. Within this context, the only real losers are the Palestinian people. Regarding the internal fighting, Hamdi Shaqqura urged the delegation to in turn urge the European Union to support the continuing dialogue in Cairo, as this represents the only way to sustainably resolve the current crisis, and unify the Palestinian people in order for them to realize their legitimate right to self-determination.
As requested by the EP delegation, PCHR invited former political prisoners from Fatah movement, who were recently released from prisons in Gaza, to join the meeting. These included Mohammed Jouda al-Nahhal, Secretary of the Fatah movement in Southern Gaza City, Abdullah al-Najjar, Director-General of the Presidential Office, and Zakareya Atwan, Director-General of the Presidential office. Jouda al-Nahhal stressed the importance of the success of the current dialogue in Cairo, whilst also calling for an end to all political arrests in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. He also called upon the EP delegation to exert pressure on Israel in order to release thousands of Palestinian prisoners who are held in Israeli jails.