UN Secretary General was in Gaza yesterday, inspecting the devastating damage to the territory's infrastructure, to civilian property and to United Nations installations. Ban Ki-moon said he was “appalled” and “heart-broken” by what he had seen and in the case of the UN depot which had been severely damaged he pressed for a full inquiry. His reaction was similar to that of the journalists who had been allowed into Gaza a day earlier and who without exception had been overwhelmed by the extent of the damage. As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has to be as even-handed as possible. But in specifically “condemning the use of excessive force” by Israel and describing only as “unacceptable” the rockets fired into Israel by Hamas, he appeared to make a clear distinction between the two sides. He said that the UN's role would continue to be “pivotal” in relation to humanitarian assistance and “long-term recovery and reconstruction.” There are as yet no reliable estimates of the probable cost of that recovery and reconstruction but it will be huge. It is not too early to ask who will be asked to pay for it. Israel must surely be the major, if not the sole, donor. If Hamas is asked to pay for damage caused by rockets in the Israeli town of Sderot it should, of course, agree to do so.


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