Having arrived in Israel from Egypt on Sunday, 12 October, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon travelled by car from Jerusalem to Ramallah on Monday morning, 13 October.
At the Presidency Muqata, he met with Rami Hamdallah, Prime Minister of the Government of National Consensus, along with Cabinet ministers.
At a joint press conference, the Secretary-General told reporters that he was encouraged by the amount that had been committed by donors at the Cairo Conference on Gaza’s reconstruction, which he had attended the previous day. He added that, in his years as Secretary‑General, Gaza has suffered catastrophic destruction three times. He said that “we must stop this endless, needless, mindless cycle of suffering”.
The Secretary‑General once again strongly condemned the continued settlement activity by Israel. He also expressed his concern about repeated provocations at the holy sites in Jerusalem. These only inflame tensions and must stop, he added.
Mr. Ban then attended a lunch hosted by Prime Minister Hamdallah, after which he returned to Jerusalem.
On Tuesday, 14 October, the Secretary-General travelled by road from Jerusalem to Gaza City, via the Erez crossing. In Gaza, he met with Ziad Abu Amr, Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of National Consensus, and Gaza-based ministers.
He told reporters that he emphasized in his meetings with the Israelis and Palestinian officials that there is no hope for the long-term stability of Gaza without addressing the underlying causes of the conflict. This includes both lifting Gaza’s blockade and addressing Israel’s legitimate security concerns. He said that he was happy to announce that the first truck carrying construction materials was arriving to Gaza that day, following the agreement on a temporary monitoring mechanism for such materials.
At a town hall meeting with staff from all UN agencies working in Gaza, the Secretary-General led a minute of silence in honour of UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) staff whose lives were lost during the conflict in Gaza the previous summer.
He spoke to reporters at a school run by UNRWA in Jabalia that had been hit during the conflict. He said that he had a deeply moving, unforgettable day and was inspired by the strength and courage of the children he met. He underscored that the Jabalia school is open, and has gone from being the site of terrible tragedy to a symbol of resilience, of learning, and of the possibility of a better day. He added that there can be no peace in the Middle East, no security for Israel, while the crisis in Gaza festers — “the build-and-destroy cycle must be broken”.
While in Gaza, he also met with a group of families forced from their homes during the conflict who were residing at a shelter for displaced persons and who had lost loved ones in the fighting. He shared his concerns with them that winter would be coming. He also visited a UN Development Programme (UNDP) project to support Gaza fisheries, where he met with Gaza’s sole registered fisherwoman.
He then transferred via the Erez crossing point to a kibbutz in Israel.