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In Gaza, UN chief pledges to stand by Palestinians

By Ians

UN chief to stand by Palestinians
Gaza, Oct 14: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon arrived in the Gaza Strip Tuesday and met members of the Palestinian unity government. He said his organisation stands with the Palestinian people.

"We are standing by your side," said Ban at a news conference held at the Palestinian unity government's headquarters in Gaza city. He announced that the first shipment of construction materials will be allowed into Gaza Tuesday, Xinhua reported.

While in Gaza, Ban is expected to launch a reconstruction process in the coastal enclave. His convoy passed through Erez crossing point between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip.

He visited the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza Strip to check a school run by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which was hit during the 50-day Israeli offensive in Gaza that ended Aug 26.

"We express deep solidarity with the Palestinian people for a better future and better economy," said Ban Ki-Moon, adding "I told the Israeli side that resolving problems in Gaza can never be done without resolving the roots of the problem."

He also went to check the massive destruction caused during the large-scale Israeli ground operation in July in Sheja'eya neighbourhood in eastern Gaza city and spoke to the owners of the destroyed homes.

"The first shipment of construction raw materials will arrive in Gaza today and the salaries of the employees in the Gaza Strip will be paid by the end of this month," said the UN chief.

On July 8, Israel launched a large-scale military offensive in the Gaza Strip that lasted for 50 days. The offensive ended after Egypt brokered a ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas-led Gaza militant groups.

The offensive on the coastal enclave left a large trail of destruction. One of the conditions for the ceasefire was to end years of an Israeli blockade imposed on the area following Hamas's violent takeover of it.

However, a Norwegian-sponsored conference of donors, held in Cairo Sunday, agreed to donate around $5 billion that would be used for reconstruction of houses and infrastructure, as well as for development.

Ban stressed that in order to resolve all the ongoing problems, the Palestinians and the Israelis have to resume their peace negotiations and discuss all these problems, otherwise violence would resume.


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