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UN chief “shocked” at Hamas attack tunnels, condemns rocket fire

United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon toured the Gaza region yesterday, including Israeli communities hit heavily by Operation Protective Edge and condemned Hamas’s attacks during the summer conflict.

Ban was shown one of the sophisticated tunnels constructed by Hamas in order to launch an attack on Israel. Dozens of such tunnels were uncovered and destroyed by Israeli forces during Operation Protective Edge. Accompanied by IDF Maj. Gen. Noam Tivon, Ban subsequently told a press conference, “I was shocked by the underground tunnels, which were used by terrorists in order to infiltrate into Israel.”

Ban also met with residents of Kibbutz Nirim, situated near the Gaza border which was bombarded by Gaza rockets throughout the summer. Among those he met were the family of four-year-old Daniel Tragerman, who was killed in an August 22 mortar attack by Hamas on nearby Kibbutz Nahal Oz. Following the meeting, Ban asked, “He was just a little boy. What has he done wrong?”

Making clear his position on Hamas’s actions, Ban commented, “I have condemned time and time again Hamas’s rocket attacks and their use of tunnels. It is not acceptable. Nobody should live in constant fear and under the threat of rockets and tunnels.”

The UN chief also toured the Gaza Strip yesterday and saw the heavy destruction in the Shejaiya and nearby Jabaliya neighbourhoods, where some of the summer’s fiercest fighting took place. Ban told reporters, “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,” in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead.

Ban urged for a wider resolution between Israel and Palestinian leaders, saying “I’m asking the leaders of both parties … to resume their talks … Otherwise it’s a matter of time that the violence will continue.” Although a ceasefire agreed in August remains in place, a longer-term agreement over Gaza has yet to be agreed with talks expected to resume in the coming weeks.