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    Hamas Prevents Gaza Children From Visiting Israel: Reports

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    Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Standoff Continues (463)
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    Hamas prevented a group of orphans from the Gaza Strip from visiting Israel. Children were supposed to visit a mixed-race school, the Tel Aviv beach, a safari trip and a concert by a Jewish-Arab band.

    MOSCOW, December 28 (Sputnik) – The Palestinian Hamas movement has blocked children orphaned during the summer's 50-day Gaza conflict from taking a trip to Israel organized by peace activists, local media reported Sunday.

    Hamas, which de facto controls the Gaza strip, turned the children away during their trip saying the organization was protecting them from “the politics of normalization” with Israel, the Middle East Online reported, quoting the Hamas movement’s interior ministry.

    Hamas was against the trip as the children would have to visit territories occupied by Israel, according to the news outlet.

    The 50-day conflict between Israeli forces and Palestinians took place from July to August leading to the deaths of over 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and about 70 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

    The 37 children, among those orphaned by the conflict, were to “circulate and learn about Israeli children,” according to the Israeli Kibbutz group which organized the trip.

    "The Shin Bet [Israel’s Internal security services] had given the green light for the children and their five minders [adult supervisors] to enter Israel," the group’s spokesperson Yoel Marshak was quoted as saying by the news outlet.

    Malek Freij, Charity for Peace director, said Hamas thought Israel wanted to exploit children, the BBC reported.

    The Hamas movement has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007 and its regime is viewed differently around the world. Hamas refuses to recognize Israel and under its charter is committed to the destruction of the Jewish State. A number of nations, including the United States and Israel, consider Hamas a terrorist organization.  The European Union (EU) meanwhile excluded Hamas from the list of terrorist organizations earlier this month.

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    Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Standoff Continues (463)

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