TEHRAN // Egypt has denied visas to four Iranian politicians who planned to travel to the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, Iran's Press TV reported today. Mahmoud Ahmadi Bighash, one of the four politicians, was quoted as saying by the English-language television's website: "The Egyptian government has stonewalled the visa process ? no visa has been issued for the MPs as of yet." The MPs were due to leave for the densely populated, impoverished Palestinian enclave yesterday. On July 21, the Mehr news agency reported that the four would enter Gaza through Egypt's Rafah crossing.
In June, the Iranian Red Crescent said it was planning to send an aid ship to Gaza but later cancelled the voyage, blaming restrictions imposed by Israel and Egypt. Iran announced it intended to send an aid ship after an Israeli commando raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla on May 31 left nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists dead and sparked international outrage. The Islamic republic does not recognise Israel, and tensions have worsened between the two countries under the president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who has repeatedly said the Jewish state is doomed to disappear.