UN Chief Assures Frustrated, Skeptical Gaza-Area Israelis That International Aid Won’t Fall Into ‘Wrong Hands’ (VIDEO)
“He was very empathetic,” one Kibbutz Nirim resident said of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in conversation with The Algemeiner on Tuesday, shortly after a tense get-together with members of her rocket-battered village, and surrounding towns.
“He said that it is important that the children of our community be able to play on the grass in safety,” Adele Raemer said of the brief, hastily-arranged meeting between Ban and a group of about 15 community residents, after his visit with Palestinians in Gaza.
Ban, who was in the region for a donors conference to rebuild areas in Gaza destroyed by IDF strikes during the 50-day-long Operation Protective Edge to quell rocket fire, and destroy attack tunnels, also met with Palestinian and Israeli leaders.
At the kibbutz, Ban “spoke about his experience with war in Korea and empathized” with local civilians affected by 14 years of intermittent rocket and mortar attacks. Ban, according to Raemer, tried to assure war-weary residents that “we do not need to worry about the money donated to Gaza falling in to the wrong hands.”
But his words didn’t really convince Raemer. “[I’m] not really optimistic – but I do not know what is behind the scenes… what can anyone really do – hopefully they have plans,” she said.
Hamas has exploited millions of dollars of foreign aid and construction materials to build a network of attack tunnels burrowing beneath Israeli villages alongside the roughly 60-kilometer coastal enclave.
Hava, a woman from the town of Sderot, near the northern edge of Gaza, was vociferous in voicing her concerns that Hamas and other Gaza terrorists would not stop the near-incessant shelling, despite Ban’s show of empathy.
Speaking in halting English, she implored Ban that the UN ensure that “the Gaza government [use the reconstruction funds] to build factories – don’t buy weapons!”
When Ban assured her, saying “don’t worry – that will not happen, that cannot happen; don’t worry about that…” she interjected, shouting, “I’m worried because its not the first time with Hamas!”
As Ban begged off to leave after the 10-minute meeting, Raz, a Nirim resident spoke up, asserting, “you said, in six years we had two conflicts. But for us, it’s been a six-year war!”
Earlier, the army toured one of the tunnels with Ban, who said, that he “was amazed at the underground tunnel that the terrorists used to penetrate” Israeli areas, according to Israel’s Ynet News.
“I condemned repeatedly rocket attacks by Hamas from the air and through the underground tunnels. This is not acceptable. I have said repeatedly that rockets that kill civilians are unacceptable. I have condemned it. Nobody should live under constant threat and fear of rockets and tunnels,” Ban told reporters.
Watch a video of Ban walking through a Hamas attack tunnel:
Watch a video of Ban after his meeting with the grandparents four-year-old Daniel Tragerman of Kibbutz Nahal Oz, who was killed by a Hamas mortar shell shortly before the August 26th cease-fire went into effect: