"The Gaza Strip is controlled by Hamas, a terrorist organization hostile to Israel. Admission (to the territory) involves special permits, subject to security concerns," the Israeli embassy in Rome said.
The Gaza Strip, with an estimated population of over 1.8 million, occupies 363 square kilometers along the Mediterranean Sea, less than half the area of New York City. Along with the larger, landlocked West Bank, it comprises one of two parts of the state of Palestine, which has bilateral recognition from 137 states, including Russia.
Hamas, an Islamist political and militant group, seeks to create an independent state of Palestine and wants Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian territories it occupied after the 1967 war. Hamas currently governs the Gaza Strip independently of the Palestinian Authority.
The group of Italian politicians is from a party called Movimento 5 Stelle (the Five Star movement). They said they had wanted to visit the Palestinian territory in order to see for themselves the living conditions of residents there, and the results of Italian development aid.
"Today the Israeli government denied (us) permission to enter the Gaza Strip. In fact, it has denied entry to anybody since Operation Protective Edge in July 2014," Manlio Di Stefano, a Five Star deputy in the Italian parliament, wrote on his Facebook page.
The July 2014 Gaza-Israel conflict erupted after three Israeli teenagers were killed by Hamas members when they were hitchhiking near Hebron in the West Bank. Israel's response left over 2,000 Gazans dead; four Jewish Israeli civilians died.
"I sincerely believe it unacceptable that a delegation of Italian deputies, led by the Vice President of the Chamber of Deputies (Luigi Di Maio), doesn't have permission to visit a non-governmental project that is paid for with money from Italian citizens," Di Stefano wrote.
Italian senator Ornella Bertorotta, also a member of the Five Star delegation, told Sputnik Italian that the decision to bar their access is a "mistake by the Israeli government."
"Currently no clashes are being reported in the Gaza Strip, at least according to the information we have. There is probably no particular threat to our safety, at least not the kind which would prevent us from visiting the area," Bertorotta said.
After the refusal, the politicians said that the group would be visiting Italian-supported projects in the West Bank, for example the Rubber-Tire School, a school for Bedouin children made from tires to give it insulation from the summer heat and cold of winter.
During their five-day visit to Israel, the Five Star delegation also met with Arab Israeli community representatives and Knesset politicians in a bid to foster a dialogue between Israel and Palestine.
It was founded in 2009 in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, and in Italy's 2013 general election the party gained 25 percent of the vote, and it has 91 out of 630 deputies in the lower parliament.