Gaza: Secretary-General voices concern over closure of crossing points

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

18 January 2008 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today expressed concern over Israel’s decision to close crossing points used to transport supplies into Gaza, and highlighted the potential humanitarian consequences of such action.

“If this situation endures, the closure will also cause further shortages of food, medical and relief items in the Gaza Strip,” Mr. Ban said in a statement issued by his spokesperson, calling on Israel to “refrain from actions that will harm the well-being of the general civilian population in Gaza.”

The closure interrupts the supply of urgently-needed fuel supplies to pump water and supply electricity to homes and hospitals, he said.

The statement also appealed for an immediate end to the violence engulfing Gaza and affecting communities in southern Israel.

The Secretary-General reiterated the need for the cessation of Palestinian sniper and rocket attacks into Israel and for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) to show maximum restraint.

He reminded the parties “of their obligation to comply with international humanitarian law and not to endanger civilians.”

Mr. Ban also voiced concern that the hostilities will hurt the chances for peace generated by the political process that started in Annapolis, Maryland, last November.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes also sounded the alarm about the impact of today’s closure of crossing points on the already “extremely worrying and fragile” humanitarian situation in Gaza.

The crossings are “the lifeline for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and other goods into Gaza,” and the closure will result in even greater shortages of food items, medical goods, among other relief supplies and basic daily necessities, Mr. Holmes, who also serves as Emergency Relief Coordinator, told reporters in New York.

The recent escalation of violence in the area threatens the political process, “which is so urgently needed,” he added.

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