After 50 days of Gaza-Israel war, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will visit the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. The visit aims to see the extent of the damage caused in the place during the war and to receive a report on preparations being made to begin reconstruction.
As per the agreement between the parties, UN employees in Gaza will oversee the use of the construction material and heavy equipment to be brought into the Strip to assure that they are not used to rebuild Hamas’ tunnels or fortifications.
Before the two-day visit to the place, Ban said, “The UN-brokered trilateral agreement on a temporary Gaza reconstruction mechanism has opened the door for much needed reconstruction, taking fully into account Israel’s legitimate security concerns.” He added, “I urge both sides to implement this mechanism in good faith.”
Ban stressed rebuilding Gaza is not enough to change the Strip’s difficult reality. He then reportedly called on Israel to fundamentally change the conditions in Gaza by easing the blockade on the Strip, saying, “If conditions in Gaza simply revert to where they were before this escalation, the clock will be reset for more instability, underdevelopment and conflict.”
According to reports, Ban called on Israel to allow the orderly entry and exit of people and goods to and from the Strip, to encourage economic growth that would “change the dynamics on the ground and ultimately enhance stability in Gaza, which in turn will improve Israel’s security.”
Meanwhile, Ban said, “The sides must quickly return to the negotiation table with the readiness to make the tough but necessary compromises.”
However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “When they found rockets in UN schools, UN officials returned them to Hamas, the same Hamas that fired the same rockets on Israeli cities and Israeli citizens.”
Ban had said in the donor conference on Sunday that the root causes of the summer’s hostilities were “a restrictive occupation that has lasted almost half a century, the continued denial of Palestinian rights and the lack of tangible progress in peace negotiations.”
Netanyahu, however, reportedly said on Monday that the occupation was irrelevant. “The root cause of the violence that burst from Gaza is not Israel’s occupation in Gaza, for a simple reason: Israel doesn’t occupy Gaza,” he told the UN chief. “The root cause of this summer’s outburst of violence was Hamas’s rocketing of Israeli cities.”
While meeting President Reuven Rivlin, with who Ban reportedly got more positive message, Rivlin said, “The rehabilitation of Gaza is an Israeli interest as much as a Palestinian one. Our Palestinian neighbors in Gaza are held captive by Hamas. They deserve safety and a better life.”
According to reports, adding that Israel is not “blind to the difficulties” faced by the residents of the Gaza Strip, Rivlin said, “The lifting of the restrictions can only take place after the Palestinian leadership, and the international community … dismantle the terrorist capabilities of Hamas, and ensure that Israeli citizens will be able to live in safety.”