UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made a brief visit to the war-torn Gaza Strip, on Tuesday, just two days after international donor states pledged some $5.4 billion in reconstruction aid, following this summer’s devastating Israeli offensive and amidst a fragile ceasefire, still currently in effect.AFP reports that Ki-moon was driven through the ruins of the Shuja’eyya neighborhood, as well as the nearby Jabaliya refugee camp, where some of the heaviest shelling in the assault occurred.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians were left without homes by the destruction and, today, people camping outside of the rubble could be seen waving at the UN convoy, as it passed.
The UN chief met with members of the newly unified Palestinian government, after which he addressed reporters, stating that the devastation he had witnessed was far worse than that which was caused by the previous Israeli assault on the region 2008-2009, otherwise known as ‘Operation Cast Lead’.
‘The destruction which I have seen while coming to here is beyond description. This is a much more serious destruction than what I saw in 2009…
‘I’d like to take this opportunity to express my deepest condolences to people who lost their lives… and loved ones,’ Ban said.
At Sunday’s donor conference in Cairo, he said that the purpose of his journey to the Strip was ‘to listen directly to the people of Gaza’.
Today, he urged both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to revive collapsed peace talks without delay.