More must be done in order to repair damage done by Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip (photo, from bbc.co.uk) one year ago, said UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon.
He said Gazans were being denied “basic human rights” and urged Israel to end its “unacceptable and counterproductive blockade”.
He added that Israeli well-being depended on conditions improving in the enclave.
In order to mark the anniversary of the conflict in which 1,400 Palestinians were killed, rallies are being held accross Gaza.
Mr Ban posted comments on the UN’s website, saying he was “deeply concerned that neither the issues that led to this conflict nor its worrying aftermath are being addressed”.
He said that though in the past year levels of violence had been low, there was still no durable ceasefire after Operation Cast Lead and Gazans were “denied basic human rights”.
“The quality and quantity of humanitarian supplies entering Gaza is insufficient, broader economic and reconstruction activity is paralysed,” said Mr Ban.
Rise in infant mortality
Only basic humanitarian supplies are allowed in Gaza under Israel’s blockade. It means that Gazans have not been able to obtain materials to repair damaged homes, buildings and infrastructure.
As a result of inadequate and unsanitary water supplies, public health is suffering and there has been a rise in infant mortality, the UN Relief and Works agency (UNRWA) in Gaza told the BBC.
UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness said thousands of tonnes of sewage were being pumped into the sea every day, because material for rebuilding treatment plants and other facilities was so scarce.
An international humanitarian aid convoy of some 200 vehicles is hoping to mark the anniversary by delivering supplies to Gaza.
Currently in Jordan, the convoy is awaiting permission to cross the Red Sea and proceed to Egypt.
In order to mark the anniversary, Hamas, which controls Gaza, is holding 22 days of rallies.
According to senior leader Ahmed Bahar, Gazans remain “steadfast” after the conflict.
“The resistance, which defended its land with honour, was not broken,” the AFP news agency quoted him as saying.
Mr Ban called on Israel to end its blockade, uphold international law and make it possible for economic activity and civilian reconstruction to take place. He also urged Hamas to respect the law and bring an end to violence, and for all Palestinians to “work for unity”.
He said there was “a sense of hopelessness in Gaza today for 1.5 million Palestinians, half of whom are under 18” and that “a fundamentally different approach to Gaza is urgently required”.
“Their fate and the well-being of Israelis are intimately connected.”
Although uneasy, the moof on the anniversary of Operation Cast Lead is relatively quiet, said the BBC’s Katya Adler in Gaza City.
She added that both Israel and Palestinians in Gaza believe 2010 is bound to bring further violence.