UN chief alarmed by recent statements from Hamas leadership in Gaza

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday said that he "is alarmed by recent statements from the Hamas leadership in Gaza about the group's intention to continue building tunnels and firing rockets at Israel."
"Such statements and actions put at risk reconstruction, humanitarian and development efforts by the international community and Palestinian and Israeli authorities," the UN chief said in a statement issued here by his spokesman. "They also do a serious disservice to the long-suffering people of Gaza."

"After three devastating conflicts in seven years, people in Gaza and the people of southern Israel deserve a chance for peace and development," said the statement. "Every effort must be made to improve the living conditions of the people of Gaza."

"The secretary-general reiterates his condemnation of terrorism in all its manifestations," the statement added.

During a funeral for seven Palestinian Hamas operatives who were killed when a tunnel they were digging collapsed on them earlier this week, senior official Ismail Haniyeh vowed on Friday that the Islamist organization will continue in building its network of underground passages, reports said.

"The Hamas military wing will continue with its preparations both underground and above ground," the former prime minister of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip was quoted by the reports as saying. "On land and at sea, we will not stop until the liberation of the holy places "in Jerusalem).""

Hamas announced on Thursday that seven members of its military wing, Izzadin Kassam, were killed when a tunnel collapsed due to heavy rainfall.

The announcement came 24 hours after Hamas said that it had lost contact with 11 who were working inside a tunnel.

In recent months, close to 20 Hamas members have died in tunnels in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, along the enclave's border with Israel, said the group.

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