Bulgaria on Friday kicked out a group of visiting Hamas parliamentarians, expelling them to Turkey.
According to the Hamas website al-Risala, Bulgarian security officials came to the hotel where the delegation was staying early Friday morning, entered their rooms, and escorted them to the airport.
The Hamas delegates blamed their eviction on Israel, saying the event had the mark of the “Zionist enterprise,” according to Israel Radio.
The group, which included Hamas member of parliament Ismail al-Ashqar, and members of the Palestinian Legislative Council Salah al-Bardawill and Mushir al-Masri, was first reported to be in Bulgaria Thursday, and Sofia immediately denied that the officials had arrived in the country to meet with political figures.
That denial came in response to a Hamas statement that a delegation was in Bulgaria to meet with political figures in what would have been the organization’s first such contacts in a European Union country.
The Hamas leaders were part of a group that was set to meet with leaders of Bulgarian political parties and community figures, the Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported.
Earlier this month, Bulgaria pointed the finger at Iranian-backed Hezbollah for being behind the July 2012 bombing of a tour bus in Burgas that killed five Israeli tourists and their local driver. Although not directly named in the Bulgarian accusation, Iran reportedly considered withdrawing its ambassador over the incident. Iran also sponsors the Gaza-based Hamas.
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.