Israel to lift Gaza siege after Hamas 'neutralized'
Updated: 2014-10-14 11:22
Israel's President Reuven Rivlin (R) and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deliver joint statements to the media in Jerusalem October 13, 2014. Ban Ki-moon is on a two-day visit to the West Bank, Israel and Gaza. [Photo/Agencies]
JERUSALEM -- Israel would lift the eight-year blockade on the Gaza Strip only after the Islamist group of Hamas is "neutralized," President Reuven Rivlin told UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon on Monday.
"The blockade can be lifted only after the Palestinian leadership and the international community will find a way to neutralize the terror capabilities of Hamas," Rivlin told Ban.
The UN chief said that a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is "the only way to guaranty the Palestinian's rights and the security of Israel."
Ban arrived in Jerusalem on Monday after a Cairo meeting of international donors on Sunday pledged to contribute 5.4 billion U. S. dollars for the reconstruction of the war-torn Gaza Strip. He " urged" leaders on both sides "to find a way to peace" and a quick resolution for the "pressing issues of Gaza's reconstruction."
At a joint press conference with Ban, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the cause of this summer's outburst of violence "was Hamas' rocketing of Israeli cities, and these rocket attacks often exploited UN neutrality, using UN facilities and UN schools as part of the Hamas machine of terror."
Israel has imposed a blockade over the Gaza Strip since the Islamist Hamas movement took control of Gaza in 2007. Since then, Israel has employed a restricted permit policy to allow people to leave the strip in humanitarian cases and to enable only limited import of essential goods.
Starting on July 8, Israel embarked on a 50-day long "Operation Defensive Edge" in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. The offensive claimed the lives of more than 2,150 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and left the Palestinian enclave in ruins. An Egyptian- brokered truce brought an end to the fighting on Aug. 26.
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