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End suffering of Palestinians

Mar 23, 2010, 10:30 AM

The suffering being experienced by the people of Palestine should end now. The world should not give a deaf ear to this unacceptable situation. The United Nations' Secretary- General Ban Ki-Moon over the weekend said Israel's blockade of Gaza is causing "unacceptable suffering," during a Middle East visit to reinvigorate the peace process.

"We stand with you" Ban Ki-Moon told Gazans as he visited an area damaged by Israel's offensive 14 months ago.

His visit to the region comes amid tension over Israel's plans to build more settlements in East Jerusalem.

Rebuilding is difficult due to lack of building materials during the three-year blockade.

Israel imposed a tightened blockade after the Islamist Hamas movement seized power in June 2007.

Speaking in Gaza, Mr. Ban said families were living under "unacceptable, unsustainable conditions."

Mr. Ban said it was "distressing" for him to see damage to housing, with no reconstruction possible under the blockade.

The blockade has prevented the UN from completing housing projects, but Mr. Ban pledged to continue providing aid to Gazans.

"My message to people of Gaza is this: The United Nations will stand with you through this ordeal," he said.

This is a highly-welcomed development and a sign of hope for the people of Palestine. However, we urge the UN and world powers to do something about the Palestinian problem now. It is long overdue for the international community to put an end to the suffering of the people of Palestine.

Among a list of criticisms of the blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt, Mr. Ban said the blockade was counter-productive as it prevented legitimate commerce, and encouraged smuggling and extremism.

Mr. Ban urged all Gazans to "choose the path of non-violence, Palestinian unity and international legitimacy."

He also called for a prisoner exchange involving Palestinian prisoners and Israeli soldier Gilat Shilad, who was captured by militants in 2006.

His two-day visit was aimed at restarting the peace process, and came just ahead of a visit by US special representative George Mitchell last Sunday to try to get indirect talks going between the Israelis and Palestinians.

The international community last week strongly condemned Israel’s announcement that it was issuing planning permission for 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel since 1967.

There should be no double standards in finding a lasting solution to the Middle East crisis. The fact is that Israel must stop all military offensives and listen to the international community, in the interest of world peace.

The plight of innocent people in Gaza and all the Palestinian territories, especially women and children who are the most vulnerable victims, should be a matter of concern to all.

The visit by the UN chief, we hope, has enabled him to acquire first-hand information about the present situation in the area, so that he could bring the influence of the UN  on other members of the organisation to act with greater urgency on the issue of Palestine.

"One does not love a place the less for having suffered in it, unless it has all been suffering, nothing but suffering."

Jane Austen