Ban Ki-moon
Photo: Reuters

UN chief urges Israel to reconsider decision on Gaza

Ban Ki-moon warns that any cutoff of vital services to Strip would violate international law, punish already suffering civilian population

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Israel on Wednesday to reconsider its decision to declare the Gaza Strip an "enemy entity," warning that any cutoff of vital services would violate international law and punish the already suffering civilian population.


In one of his toughest statements aimed at Israel since taking the reins of the UN on Jan. 1, Ban said he was "very concerned" at the Israeli government's declaration earlier Wednesday "and its announced intent to interrupt essential services such as electricity and fuel to the civilian population."


"Such a step would be contrary to Israel's obligations towards the civilian population under international humanitarian and human rights law," he said.


"I call for Israel to reconsider this decision," the secretary general said in a statement read by UN spokeswoman Michele Montas.


The secretary-general stressed that "the United Nations has broad humanitarian responsibilities and is mandated to provide assistance to and meet the humanitarian needs of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip and West Bank."


"There are 1.4 million people in Gaza, including the old, the young and the sick, who are already suffering from the impact of prolonged closure. They should not be punished for the unacceptable actions of militants and extremists," he said.


At the same time, Ban said "the continued indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza into Israel is unacceptable and I deplore it."


"I understand Israel's security concerns over this matter," he said. "I call for it to stop immediately."


Earlier Wednesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday condemned Israel's plan to cut fuel and electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip, calling it ''an oppressive decision.''


''This oppressive decision will only strengthen the chocking embargo imposed on 1.5 million people in the Gaza Strip, increase their suffering and deepen their tragedy,'' Abbas' office said in a statement.


פרסום ראשון: 09.19.07, 20:18
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