Bethlehem – Ma’an – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza on Sunday in a message marking the one-year anniversary of the attack on the Palestinian territory.
Issued through his spokesperson, Ban's message said “There is a sense of hopelessness in Gaza today for 1.5 million Palestinians, half of whom are under eighteen. Their fate and the well-being of Israelis are intimately connected.”
Ban called on Israel “to end the unacceptable and counterproductive blockade of Gaza, facilitate economic activity and civilian reconstruction, and fully respect and uphold international law.”
He also called on Hamas to “to bring an end to violence and fully respect and uphold international law.”
Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza in June 2007 after Hamas took full control of the territory. The border closure includes a ban on imports of building materials, which has prevented reconstruction from last winter’s three-week war.
The Israeli offensive left more than 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.
In his message the UN chief also argued that the underlying causes of the war have not yet been addressed.
“Very few of the key elements for stability, as identified in Security Council resolution 1860, have been implemented,” Ban’s spokesperson said.
“While violence has been at lower levels this year, incidents continue and there is no durable ceasefire in place,” he added.