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UN chief visits Gaza, seeks end to blockade

AP

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has entered the blockaded Gaza Strip, where 1.5 million people have been under lockdown by Israel and Egypt for nearly three years.

Ban has repeatedly called for an end to the blockade, imposed after the Islamic militant Hamas movement seized Gaza in 2007.

In a visit to a Gaza City neighborhood badly damaged during last year’s Israeli offensive, he promised residents appealing for an end to the blockade that “we stand with you.”

On Friday, Ban and other Mideast mediators called for the opening of Gaza’s borders.

In return, they want Hamas to recognize Israel, renounce violence and reconcile with its Western-backed rival, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who controls the West Bank.

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