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Cutting off essential services to Gaza breaches Israeli obligations - Ban Ki-moon

19 September 2007 Israel’s decision to interrupt the provision of essential services, such as electricity and fuel, to the Gaza Strip contravenes its obligations under international humanitarian and human rights towards the territory’s civilian population, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, voicing concern at the move.

In a statement Mr. Ban called on the Israeli Government to reconsider its decision, which also includes a declaration that the Gaza Strip is an “enemy entity.”

“There are 1.4 million people in Gaza, including the old, the young and the sick, who are already suffering from the impact of prolonged closure,” he said. “They should not be punished for the unacceptable actions of militants and extremists.”

The statement noted that the United Nations has broad humanitarian responsibilities and is mandated to provide assistance to and meet the humanitarian needs of civilians in both Gaza and the West Bank.

Mr. Ban added that “the continued indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza into Israel is unacceptable and I deplore it. I call for it to stop immediately. I understand Israel’s security concerns over this matter.”

UN officials have expressed concern repeatedly in recent months that the closure of border crossings and other restrictions in Gaza have cut exports and forced factories to shut, leaving tens of thousands of Palestinians in the territory without jobs or income.

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