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Palestinian Protesters Hurl Shoes at Visiting UN Chief, Accuse Him of Bias Toward Israel
Protesters surround a vehicle the convoy of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as it enters the Gaza Strip Thursday. (Image source: Reuters)

Palestinian Protesters Hurl Shoes at Visiting UN Chief, Accuse Him of Bias Toward Israel

Thanked the people of Gaza for their "warm welcome."

Palestinian protesters greeted visiting United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday by hurling shoes and chairs at his convoy as it entered the Gaza Strip, accusing him of being biased toward Israel, Haaretz reported.

About 40 protesters were waiting for the convoy on the Palestinian side of the Erez Crossing with Israel. Some held signs that read "Ban Ki-moon enough bias for Israel." As the UN vehicles drove through, protesters beat the vans with their signs and with sticks.

Reports of what precisely protesters threw at the convoy varied: Reuters reported it was shoes, sticks and stones while the Associated Press said three protesters hurled slippers and one tossed a boot. The Deutsche Presse-Agentur news agency identified shoes and chairs.

According to Haaretz, many of those protesting were relatives of Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons.

"We came here in a symbolic message to Mr. Ban Ki-moon that Palestinians from Gaza want to have the right to visit their children and loved ones in Israeli jails," Jamal Farwana, a spokesman for Gaza prisoners' families said. "He should make more of an effort to release the prisoners and we wonder why every time he avoids meeting families of Palestinian prisoners."

The protesters also formed a human chain at the crossing in an effort to block the vehicles from entering Gaza, though accompanying security forces from the ruling militant group Hamas moved them away, Haaretz reported. There were no injuries.

Nevertheless, in speaking to reporters, Ban thanked the people of Gaza for their "warm welcome." He is visiting the region in an effort to restart peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.

According to the Associated Press, Ban did not meet with Hamas officials during his time in Gaza but with U.N. relief officials, aid groups and human rights organizations.

Still, in remarks he urged Hamas to end attacks on Israel; a wave of mortar shells fell into southern Israel Wednesday ahead of his arrival. There were no casualties.

"All this violence must stop," he said in Gaza. "I would urge the Palestinians from Gaza: They must stop firing rockets on the Israeli side...this killing of civilians is not acceptable."

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