UN chief visits Gaza, demands investigation into attacks on UN facilities

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, has demanded a full investigation into the attacks on UN schools in the Gaza Strip after personally visiting the destroyed complexes in the Strip.

"I am just appalled and not able to describe how I am feeling having seen this ... it's an outrageous and totally unacceptable attack against the UN. I have protested many times, and I protest again in the strongest terms," stated Ban during a press conference in the Strip on Tuesday. Ban also denounced the "shocking and alarming" devastation in Gaza, and also added that he believes rocket attacks from Hamas are "unnacceptable". He also said that the UN would help the Palestinians overcome the devastation which he described as, "shocking and alarming".

UNRWA chief John Ging speaks to the press at a UNRWA facility in Gaza on January 15, 2009.
Image: ISM Palestine.

The schools shelled by Israel, were housing refugees when they were hit with tank shells, one of the attacks killed 50 refugees. At first Israel claimed there was mortar fire from Hamas militants coming from the schools, the Israeli army later retracted those claims and says it is investigating the incidents.

A spokesman for the UN has said Ban's purpose in Gaza was to "express solidarity with Palestinian suffering". Ban also plans to visit parts of Israel struck by Hamas rockets.

Decomposing bodies continue to be pulled from the rubble in Gaza bringing death toll to 1,300, among the dead are 400 children, and 100 women. The UN says that 400,000 Palestinians are without running water, and that 100,000 people have been left homeless. The World Health Organization has warned that there is a high possibility that diseases may break out because of the number of decomposing bodies and the sewage that now runs through the streets in the Strip.

Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni said on a radio programme: "We had achievements that for a long time Israel did not have. And therefore, you also have to know when to make the decision to stop and look. If Hamas got the message that we sent so harshly, then we can stop. If Hamas tries to continue to shoot, then we will continue."

Shaul Mofaz the transport minister of Israel said, "I think Gazans understand today that it is Hamas that led them to this reality."

After a six month ceasefire agreement expired without a halt to Israel's blockade of Gaza's boundaries, Hamas escalated rocket attacks on southern Israel. On December 27, Israel began its assault on Gaza to eliminate the rocket fire. The offensive lasted more than three weeks.


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