United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accused Israel of enforcing a “suffocating” and “stifling” blockade on the Gaza Strip during a visit to the Hamas-controlled enclave on Tuesday.
“The closure of Gaza suffocates its people, stifles its economy and impede reconstruction effort, it is a collective punishment for which there must be accountability,” declared Ban.
Ban, known for being a strong critic of Israel, even going so far as to defend the terrorists attacking innocent Israelis and Jews in Israel’s most recent terror wave by saying that it is “human nature to react to occupation”, is in Israel for a quick 48-hour visit which includes trips to Palestinian territories.
He spoke from a school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), a humanitarian UN body specifically created for Palestinian refugees which operates in Gaza. In keeping with the UN’s anti-Israel tradition, the UNRWA is unapologetically hostile to the Jewish state. One Jewish organization ranked its activities among the worst anti-Semitic violations of 2015.
UNRWA has admitted to employing at least 22 Palestinians, some of them teachers, who have openly and actively encouraged violence against Jews and Israelis.
The Gaza blockade was one of the core issues discussed during the recent reconciliation talks between Israel and Turkey, concluded on Monday. Originally, Turkey, which has close ties to Hamas, had said that a lifting of the blockade was a non-negotiable condition for diplomatic reconciliation between the two countries. However, the final terms of the deal allowed for the blockade to stay in place.
“This is a supreme security interest of ours. I was not willing to compromise on it. This interest is essential to prevent the force build-up by Hamas and it remains as has been and is,” said Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on Monday at the press conference in Rome where the agreement was announced.
He added that humanitarian aid would still reach Gaza through Israeli ports.
Israel argues that lifting the blockade would essentially give Hamas, a terror organization, unlimited access to weapons, missiles, and building materials to construct its massive network of terror tunnels, representing a huge security risk and unacceptable status quo for Israel.
While critics claim that the blockade prevents aid and goods from reaching Gaza, tons of humanitarian aid, including food, medicine, and construction materials, are delivered daily through Israel’s border crossings with the Strip.
Relations between Israel and Turkey broke down six years ago when “human rights activists” illegally sailed a Turkish flotilla called the Mavi Marmara past the blockade, prompting an IDF response during which 10 of the activists were killed.
Netanyahu has agreed to give Turkey $21 million in reparations as part of the reconciliation deal, outraging many Israelis and politicians who believe the move is “a national humiliation and an invitation for more flotillas and more libels from Israel haters.”