UN Chief Ban Ki-Moon Calls for Israel to End 'Collective Punishment' Blockade of Gaza

'The closure of Gaza suffocates its people, stifles its economy and impede reconstruction effort, it is a collective punishment for which there must accountability.'

UN Sec.-Gen. Ban Ki-moon with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem, Oct. 20, 2015.
AP

U.N. Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon called on Israel on Tuesday to lift the "suffocating" blockade on the Gaza Strip, a day after Israel said the naval bloackade of Gaza would continue under a deal with Turkey to normalize ties.

During a visit to the coastal strip, Ban told reporters: "The closure of Gaza suffocates its people, stifles its economy and impede reconstruction effort, it is a collective punishment for which there must accountability."

During a 48 hour visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, Ban met with Israeli President Rivlin and is scheduled to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

Ban will likely encourage the leaders to engage with the Quartet on its recommendations in a forthcoming report on creating the conditions for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Israel and Turkey signed an agreement on Tuesday (June 28) to normalize ties and end a rift over the Israeli navy's killing of 10 Turkish pro-Palestinian activists who tried to sail to the blockaded Gaza Strip in 2010.

But Netanyahu made clear the naval blockade of Gaza, which Ankara had wanted lifted under the deal, would remain in force, although humanitarian aid could continue to be transferred to Gaza via Israeli ports.

Israel says its blockade prevents the movement of militants and stops construction materials that could be used by Hamas to make bunkers and tunnels. Palestinians there say they are under siege and are unable to rebuild homes destroyed by Israeli bombing in a 2014 war.

A 2011 report commissioned by U.N. Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon upheld the legality of the Gaza blockade.