UN chief urges immediate end to Gaza trade ban

The United Nations Secretary-General is calling on Israel to stop blocking fuel, cash and other materials from Gaza. In remarks read out at a meeting Wednesday in Cyprus, Ban Ki-Moon said he was "very disturbed" that life in the Palestinian territory "remains extremely difficult" more than three months after the IDF's Operation Cast Lead. He said a "near total ban" on trade except for basic needs is preventing "broader humanitarian assistance, economic recovery and long-term development." Ban said measures that increase hardship and suffering in Gaza "are unacceptable and must stop immediately." Ban's remarks were read during a UN-sponsored international meeting in Cyprus in support of Israeli-Palestinian peace.