U.N. chief visits Israel, Gaza


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The head of the United Nations visited Israel before entering the Gaza Strip.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met Tuesday morning with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert  before leaving on a tour of Sderot in southern Israel and from there going to Gaza.

Ki-moon expressed his appreciation to Olmert for Israel’s decision to end its operation in Gaza and the two leaders discussed ways to make the cease-fire more lasting. 

Olmert asserted that the United Nations must coordinate the reconstruction of Gaza with other international organizations and that Hamas must not be allowed to draw any legitimacy from the process.

Ki-moon visited U.N. facilities in Gaza that were hit during the fighting.

"I am just appalled. I am not able to describe how I am feeling," he said in front of the remains of a U.N. food warehouse. "This was an outrageous and totally unacceptable attack against the United Nations."

The damage to infrastructure in Gaza has been estimated at $1.4 billion.

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