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Middle East

Ban Ki-moon condemns Israel's Gaza Strip blockade

media U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visits Palestinian houses destroyed during Israel's three-week offensive last year, in the northern Gaza Strip. Reuters

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon called on Sunday for Israel to end its blockade of the Gaza Strip, a policy which he said caused "unacceptable suffering". Ban was speaking from the impoverished coastal enclave as part of his tour to revive the Middle East peace process.
 

The UN Secretary-General has "repeatedly" told Israel's leaders that the blockade is "not sustainable" and "wrong", Ban told reporters in the southern Gaza Strip town Khan
Yunis.

"It causes unacceptable sufferings to [...] the people and population" of Gaza, he said.

In addition the shutdown encourages smuggling, undercuts moderates and empowers extremists, Ban continued.

The UN chief crossed into the Gaza Strip early on Sunday, as part of a two-day regional tour that also took him to Israel and the West Bank.

Ban toured some of the hardest-hit areas of Gaza before inaugurating projects to build 150 homes, a flour mill and a sewage treatment plant, all of which he said were approved by Israel in recent days.

However, Ban said more reconstruction was needed, calling the projects a "drop in the bucket".

"I am confident the blockade can be lifted while addressing Israel's legitimate security concerns," he said before a meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres on Saturday.

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