UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. (AP/Khalil Hamra) (AP/Khalil Hamra)
Ban Ki-Moon

In a visit to Gaza on his last visit to the Middle East in his capacity as UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, in what appears to be a supremely naive statement, called on Israel to lift its blockade on Gaza. If Israel were to follow this delusional idea, it would place millions of its citizens at immediate risk.

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon visited the Gaza Strip on Tuesday during his final scheduled visit to the region in his current capacity as head of the UN.

He visited a UNRWA-run school, where he spoke to staff and students, and condemned Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip that “suffocates its people, stifles its economy, and impedes construction efforts.”

“It’s a collective punishment for which there must be accountability,” he charged.

Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza after Hamas seized power in 2007. Israel says the blockade is needed to prevent arms from reaching the Islamic terror group, which has fought three wars against Israel since it took over the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Ban stressed the importance of achieving a united Palestinian entity under a single, democratic, and legitimate government, adding that he stands with the people of Gaza, telling them that “the UN will always be with you.”

Gaza is currently ruled by Hamas, while the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria is ruled by its rival Fatah. Attempts at reconciliation between the rival factions have reputedly failed.

The Commissioner-General for UNRWA Pierre Krahenbuhl accompanied Ban on the trip, saying their visit “comes at a time of deep despair in Gaza” citing a bleak political horizon, no freedom of movement, and high levels of unemployment. “The world needs to pay far more attention,” he demanded.

The Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported that senior Hamas official and Deputy Speaker of the Palestinian Parliament Ahmad Bahar released a statement Tuesday urging Ban and the UN to “work seriously” towards ending the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.

Bahar criticized Ban’s visit as “part of the ongoing efforts to resume negotiations to reach a compromise that serves occupation and to contain the Al-Aqsa Intifada,” referring to the French-led peace efforts.

Slamming the UN, Bahar added that the international organization has “remained silent towards the Gaza siege crime for ten years” by trying to “treat the victim and the executioner evenly.”

Ban addressed the press on Monday following a meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, where he called on Israelis and Palestinians to take “concrete steps” towards peace.

His visit came on the heels of an agreement reached between Israel and Turkey to re-establish full diplomatic ties between the two countries, which included a Turkish demand to to lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip. Israel agreed to allow Turkey to begin delivering humanitarian aid and initiate infrastructural projects for the territory.

By: AP and United with Israel Staff

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