Gaza's ruling Hamas has denounced a Palestinian official's visit to the site of a Nazi death camp in Poland, and called the Holocaust in which six million European Jews perished an "alleged tragedy."
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said: "It was an unjustified and unacceptable visit that served only the Zionist occupation." Barhoum continued by calling into question the scope of the Holocaust, saying the visit was "a marketing of a false Zionist alleged tragedy."
He said he saw this as coming "at the expense of a real Palestinian tragedy," alluding to Israel's control over territory where Palestinians live and seek to establish a state.
Barhoum added that the Palestinian Authority was financially bankrupt and was therefore taking small steps of this kind in hopes of extracting itself from the crisis by winning international sympathy.
However, Hamas has also rejected the existence of the Holocaust, calling it "a lie invented by the Zionists and it will poison children minds." It reportedly has not allowed the UNRWA, which established schools in Gaza, to teach children about the Holocaust in their history classes.
Earlier, the Associated Press reported that Ziad al-Bandak, an adviser to President Abbas on Christian affairs, visited the camp after an invitation from a private Polish foundation which promotes tolerance.
According to the report, Al-Bandak visited the gas chambers, a crematorium and prisoner cells, before laying a wreath of flowers at the Death Wall where Polish resistance fighters were summarily executed.
It is worth mentioning that the original camp in Auschwitz was established in May 1940 by Nazi Germany to serve as a detention facility for Polish political prisoners. Auschwitz-Birkenau II was set up two years later, and became a major extermination site for Jews, Reuters news reported.
According to Israel's Hayom news, in 1947 the former death camps were converted into memorial sites and museums. Last year, Auschwitz was visited by 1.4 million people, including a Muslim delegation of officials from Turkey, Jordan, Morocco and Iraq.