(JNS.org) United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticized Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip during his visit to the region on Tuesday.
In a tour of a U.N.-run school in Gaza, Ban said that “the closure of Gaza suffocates its people, stifles its economy, and impedes reconstruction efforts.”
“It’s a collective punishment for which there must be accountability,” he said.
Ban also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, where the prime minister urged Ban force Hamas—the Palestinian terror group ruling Gaza—to return the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza during the 2014 war there, in addition to two missing Israelis who are believed to be in Hamas captivity.
“Hamas is cruelly and illegally holding the remains of our soldiers and holding our citizens. I ask you to use your standing to help return home these soldiers and these citizens,” Netanyahu said.
“Hamas is a terrorist organization,” he said. “Hamas has genocidal aims. It doesn’t merely practice terrorism. It says openly that its goal is to wipe away from the face of the Earth a member state of the United Nations.”
Netanyahu also reminded Ban of the security need for the Gaza and the threat that Israel faces from Hamas.
“I hope the U.N. will highlight Hamas’s crimes and understand that our security measures are aimed only at keeping our citizens safe from this threat, and we use judicious force in this regards,” said Netanyahu.