Irish foreign minister makes ground-breaking Gaza visit
Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin arrived Thursday in the Gaza Strip, in a first ever visit to the Hamas-ruled enclave by a top Western government official, DPA reported.
No foreign ministers or prime ministers of European Union member states have visited Gaza since the radical Islamist movement seized sole control of the strip in June 2007.
The EU and the US declared a boycott of Hamas over its refusal to recognize Israel and renounce violence.
Martin entered the blockaded and impoverished enclave through the Rafah crossing on the border with Egypt, escorted by United Nations vehicles.
He had tried to visit late last year while visiting Israel, but but was not given permission by Israeli authorities.
Palestinian sources said Martin did not plan to meet with Hamas officials. They said he would tour areas targeted during Israel's three-week offensive last year.
Martin's visit to the enclave comes after Dubai police revealed that some of the suspects who participated in the murder of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in the emirate used Irish passports.
Since Hamas' take-over of Gaza, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Tony Blair, the envoy of the quartet of Middle East peace sponsors - the United States, UN, EU and Russia - and lawmakers including Britain's George Galloway have visited the territory.