On a three-day visit to Israel, Guterres also visited northern Gaza, where he pledged $4 million in humanitarian aid from the UN.
After touring Israeli border communities threatened by Hamas in Gaza on Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited the Gaza Strip, where he ordered the release of $4 million from the UN’s emergency relief fund.
Hamas demanded the UN chief approve relief and development programs as well as pressuring Israel to release Palestinian prisoners.
“I am deeply moved to be in Gaza today, unfortunately to witness one of the most dramatic humanitarian crises that I’ve seen in many years working as a humanitarian in the United Nations,” Guterres said, according to AFP. He later said it was “important to open the closures” imposed on the enclave.
Israel and Egypt have implemented blockades for security purposes.
Speaking at a UN-funded elementary school in the northern Gaza Strip, Guterres called for Palestinian unity, in reference to the Hamas terror group, which rules the Strip, and Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority.
“The division only undermines the cause of the Palestinian people,” he said, according to AP, adding that he had a dream to “come back to Gaza one day and to see Gaza as part of a Palestine state in peace and prosperity.”
Accompanied earlier in the day by Ambassador Danny Danon and IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi on a tour of the Israel-Gaza border area, the UN chief also toured a Hamas terror tunnel.
“Hamas continues to arm itself in order to harm Israel as it exploits the generous humanitarian aid provided by the international community,” Danon told Guterres. “They have turned the residents of Gaza into hostages and invest resources into digging murderous terror tunnels.”
Israeli security thwarted 1,226 attempts to smuggle contraband into Gaza in 2016 – a 165% increase from 2015. In the same year, the movement of Israeli goods into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom boder crossing increased by 13 percent to 175,000 trucks and peaked at an average of 890 trucks daily throughout the month of October.
These imports included cement meant for construction that was often stolen by Hamas and used to build its military fortifications.
Hamas officials earlier this month criticized Israel’s construction of a new security fence surrounding the trip, which is aimed at thwarting the threat posed by the Palestinian terror group’s cross-border attack tunnels.
By: Adina Katz, World Israel News