Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. Secretary-General, said Wednesday that Israel should end its blockade of Gaza and that the deaths of activists aboard an aid flotilla could have been avoided.

“Had the Israeli government heeded to international calls and my own strong and urgent and persistent call to lift the blockade of Gaza, this would not have happened,” Ban told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

He added, "It would have been avoided without such tragedy, therefore I again urge Israeli authorities to lift this


Israel began a blockade of the region after Hamas won a plurality during elections in the region in 2007.

Ban has called for an end to the blockade before.

In March, he said the policy caused "unacceptable suffering," was "not sustainable" and "wrong."

Israel strongly defends the action taken against the aid flotilla and the continuing blockade.

“It’s important to understand that this [blockade] is essential to protect Israel’s security and its right to defend itself,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday.

Gaza, he asserted, is an “Iranian-sponsored terrorist state,” and as such it is vitally important to prevent the entry of weapons there, whether by air, sea and land, he said.

Activists say they were not armed and were shocked that Israel used live fire, causing several deaths.