Ban urges lift of Gaza blockade to ease 'suffering'

Ban devotes more of his speech at UNHRC to Israel-Palestine than to bloodbath in Syria, makes no mention of Iran.

Ban Ki-moon at UN Human Rights Council 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)
Ban Ki-moon at UN Human Rights Council 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Israel to lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip Monday during a speech to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, during which he devoted equal time to the Palestinian issue and the bloodbath in Syria.
Ban also made no mention of Iran, its human rights abuses or genocidal threats.
The secretary-general defied US and Israeli requests last month to stay away from the Non-Aligned Movement conference in Tehran, which the regime there used to prop up its legitimacy both domestically and around the world.
“This is part of the UN’s institutional bias against Israel and is par for the course,” one Israeli government official said. “I would like to say I am surprised, but I am not.”
Ban opened his speech by saying that the council “must respond to all human rights violations in an even-handed manner, without disproportionately emphasizing any one situation over another. Taking a selective approach to human rights violations has the effect of damaging the credibility of the institutions concerned.”
Regarding Gaza, Ban used 169-words of his 1,528-word address to urge Israel to “lift its harsh restrictions in order to ease the plight of civilians and bring an end to the closure. Keeping a large and dense population in unremitting poverty is in nobody’s interest except that of the most extreme radicals in the region.”
Ban characterized the situation in Gaza as “tense and troubling, with indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza and Israeli airstrikes and incursions. Serious human rights, humanitarian and socioeconomic problems only add to the immense human suffering.”
On Syria, Ban expressed in 153 words that he was “deeply troubled by the aerial bombardments of civilians by government forces; by the increasing sectarian tensions; by the deteriorating humanitarian situation; and by the apparent choice of both sides to pursue a solution through force rather than dialogue.”
Various estimates put the number of dead in the Syrian civil war between 25,000 – 33,000, half of them civilians.