On the first anniversary of the launch of a three-week Israeli military offensive in Gaza, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced deep concern that neither the issues that led to the conflict nor its worrying aftermath have been addressed.
The military campaign, known as “Operation Cast Lead,” had the stated aim of ending rocket attacks by militants operating in Gaza, and left over 1,400 people dead, injured 5,000 others and reduced homes, schools, hospitals and marketplaces to rubble.
Mr. Ban said that restrictions on building supplies and aid entering Gaza has paralyazed the economy and reconstruction efforts, and is denying Gazans their basic human rights.
“There is a sense of hopelessness in Gaza today for 1.5 million Palestinians, half of whom are under eighteen,” said Mr. Ban, stressing that their “fate and the well-being of Israelis are intimately connected.”
The Secretary-General called on Israel to end the “unacceptable and counterproductive blockade of Gaza.” At the same time, he urged Hamas “to bring an end to violence,” and for both sides to “fully respect and uphold international law.”
He noted efforts to combat illicit trafficking of weapons into Gaza have failed to halt the smuggling, and Egypt's bid to unify Palestinians has yet to breach the deadlock.
“Today's anniversary is a reminder of the bitter consequences of the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to which there is and can be no military solution,” Mr. Ban said in a statement attributable to his spokesperson.
“The urgent priority of all Israeli and Palestinian leaders, the region, and the international community as a whole must be the achievement of a two State solution.”