Secretary-General expresses hope that Israel will allow more items to enter Gaza

24 December 2009

After Israel’s announcement that it will allow glass into Gaza following United Nations requests to repair homes damaged during last year’s fighting, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced hope that this will pave the way for other much-needed materials to enter the area.

Nearly one year has passed since the start of the three-week Israeli military offensive, with the stated aim of ending rocket attacks by militants operating in Gaza.

Operation Cast Lead killed over 1,400 people and injured 5,000 others, also reducing homes, schools, hospitals and marketplaces to rubble.

Just yesterday, a UN independent human rights expert underlined in a statement that building materials necessary to repair the damage resulting from the heavy bombardment and artillery assaults could not enter Gaza.

Richard Falk, the Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, also blamed the blockade for continued breakdowns of the electricity and sanitation systems due to the Israeli refusal to let spare parts needed for repair get through the crossings.

UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters today that the Secretary-General hopes the decision to allow glass into Gaza “will be followed by further imports of needed material for reconstruction.”

In a report issued last month, Mr. Ban stressed that the blockade of vital supplies has devastated Gaza’s economy and “has also severely impaired the realization of a wide range of economic, social and cultural rights, as well as civil and political rights.”

An independent fact-finding mission concluded that both Israeli forces and Palestinian militants were guilty of serious human rights violations during Operation Cast Lead. The probe, led by Justice Richard Goldstone, a former prosecutor at UN war crimes tribunals, was set up at the request of the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council. Its findings were endorsed last month by the General Assembly.

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