17 January 2008 Deeply concerned at the escalation of violence in Gaza, the West Bank and southern Israel, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for an immediate halt to Palestinian sniper and rocket attacks, as well as maximum restraint by the Israeli Defence Forces.
“He is troubled by the heavy bloodshed, particularly the killing and injuring of civilians on both sides and the potential for further casualties unless the situation is de-escalated,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement.
“He reminds all parties of their obligation to comply with international humanitarian law and not to endanger civilians,” the statement added.
In a related development, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief will visit Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory from 20 to 27 January.
During her visit, Asma Jahangir will hold talks with Government officials responsible for matters of religion or belief and will meet with representatives of religious organizations, non-governmental organizations and individuals.
She will submit a report on the visit to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council.
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