Palestinian resistance faction Hamas has called on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who arrived in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, to support calls for lifting Israel’s years-long blockade of the coastal strip “to redeem himself for whitewashing Israeli massacres.”
“Ban Ki-moon helped cover up Israel’s massacre of Palestinians in the southern city of Rafah during Israel’s recent war [on Gaza],” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, said in a Tuesday statement.
“We call on [Ban] to redeem himself by… [working towards] the total lifting of the siege on the Gaza Strip,” Abu Zuhri said.
He further called on the U.N. chief to “stop employing double standards and assume responsibility for Palestinian victims of Israeli aggression.”
Ban arrived in Gaza earlier Tuesday through the Erez border crossing with Israel for a one-day visit in order to deliver an address to the Palestinian people.
The visit comes two days after he attended an international donor conference in Cairo devoted to the reconstruction of the war-battered enclave.
During Israel’s devastating seven-week Gaza offensive in July and August, Ban had accused Hamas of breaching a humanitarian cease-fire following reports that Israeli soldiers had gone missing during the truce.
Hamas, for its part, rejected Ban’s allegations.
For seven weeks this summer, Israel pummeled the Gaza Strip with the stated aim of halting rocket fire from the Palestinian territory.
The onslaught left more than 2,150 Palestinians dead – the vast majority of them civilians – and 11,000 injured, while leaving much of the strip’s critical infrastructure in ruins.
Over the same period, at least 73 Israelis – 68 soldiers and five civilians – were killed by Palestinian fighters or rocket fire.
Home to some 1.8 million Palestinians, the Gaza Strip has reeled under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2006.
The siege was tightened further after Hamas – labeled a “terrorist group” by Israel – wrested control of the coastal territory from rival faction Fatah in 2007.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad