Jimmy Carter, the former US president, has described Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip as "one of the greatest human rights crimes on earth." Carter was speaking at a literary festival in Wales, Great Britain. He told the ‘Guardian’newspaper that the Israeli blockade has led to what he calls the "imprisonment" of Gaza's 1.6 million Palestinians. Israel and Egypt sealed their borders with Gaza after the Hamas militant group seized control of the territory last June. Israel continues to send fuel and humanitarian supplies to Gaza while prohibiting the regular crossing of people and goods.
Israeli leaders have in the past said that the blockade was necessary to stop Gaza militants from firing rockets at Israeli towns. Jimmy Carter called the European Union's lack of criticism of the Gaza blockade "embarrassing." He said the EU should establish relations with Hamas if the group agrees to a ceasefire in Gaza. During his speech in Wales, Carter reportedly also claimed said that Israel had an arsenal of 150 nuclear weapons.
Jimmy Carter traveled to Syria last month for talks with Hamas' exiled leader, Khaled Meshaal. Israel condemned Carter for meeting Meshaal, while the US State Department said Hamas had shown no change in its policy towards Israel after talking with the former president.