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Ban Ki-Moon Blames Israel for Gaza Suffering, Ignores Smuggling

UN chief Ban Ki-Moon visited Gaza and blamed Israel for its economic woes but ignored Hamas’s smuggling of weapons for use against Israel.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 3/21/2010, 2:13 PM / Last Update: 3/21/2010, 2:25 PM

United Nations Secetary-General Ban Ki-Moon visited Gaza Sunday and blamed Israel for its economic woes while ignoring terrorists’ smuggling of weapons for use against Israel and the documented abundance of food and opportunities for Arab exporters.

He also did not mention the resumption of Kassam attacks on southern Israel. The Israel Air Force two days ago bombed several tunnels that Hamas had built for smuggling weapons and for use by terrorists to kidnap IDF soldiers.

The day before, IDF Military Intelligence Director Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, briefed Ban on smuggling routes used by Iran via air, land and sea, and the Iranian aid for weapons to Hamas and Hizbullah.

However, Ban focused on Israel’s partial blockade of Gaza and called on Jerusalem to open all crossings for free passage of goods and merchandise. Israel has allowed daily humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza, even during the Operation Cast Lead war against Hamas terrorists last year. It has prohibited routine travel in and out of Gaza because of constant attempts by Hamas and allied terrorists to exploit the transfer of goods to smuggle in terrorists and weapons.

The Gaza economy was growing and prospering in the 1980s and 90s but suffered with the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000, also known as the Oslo War, prior to which Jewish communities in the region had employed thousands of Arabs in building and agriculture. Constant terrorist attacks forced Jews to rely on foreign labor, leaving the Gaza economy with higher unemployment.

The employment situation worsened after the 2005 unilateral withdrawal by Israel and the expulsion by the Sharon government of 9,000 Jews in Gush Katif and northern Gaza who had employed Gazan Arabs in agriculture and construction. The military coup staged by Hamas against Fatah three years ago exacerbated the problem, but the stores and markets in Gaza are overflowing with goods that come in through the crossings or are smuggled in the tunnels from Egypt.

Despite Egypt's clamp on its border with Gaza at the city of Rafiah, Ban placed the blame squarely on Israel’s shoulders. Making his second visit to Gaza since the end of Operation Cast Lead, Ban stated, “I have repeatedly made it quite clear to Israel’s leaders that the Israeli policy of closure is not sustainable and that it’s wrong. It causes unacceptable suffering.”

Ban is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu later Sunday.