27 December 2008 Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday appealed for an immediate halt to the renewed violence in the Middle East, after Israeli air strikes – in response to ongoing rocket attacks by Palestinian militants – reportedly killed at least 150 people in Gaza.
“The Secretary-General is deeply alarmed by today’s heavy violence and bloodshed in Gaza, and the continuation of violence in southern Israel. He appeals for an immediate halt to all violence,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement issued today.
“While recognizing Israel’s security concerns regarding the continued firing of rockets from Gaza, he firmly reiterates Israel’s obligation to uphold international humanitarian and human rights law and condemns excessive use of force leading to the killing and injuring of civilians,” the statement said.
“He condemns the ongoing rocket attacks by Palestinian militants and is deeply distressed that repeated calls on Hamas for these attacks to end have gone unheeded,” it added.
In an effort to bring a swift end to the violence, Mr. Ban is making “immediate contact” with regional and international leaders, including the other members of the diplomatic Quartet – the European Union, Russia and the United States – which backs the Road Map plan for a two-State solution to the conflict with Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.
Just a few days ago, he called on Hamas, which recently declared that the ongoing calm between Gaza and southern Israel was now over, to ensure an immediate end to rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel and urged all parties to work urgently to ease humanitarian conditions in the Strip.
Today he reiterated the call for humanitarian supplies to be allowed into Gaza to aid the distressed population of 1.5 million Palestinians, who have been suffering due to shortages of food, medicine and fuel.
Some supplies did manage to get into Gaza yesterday, for the first time in almost ten days, after Israel opened a couple of the crossings which it had kept closed citing rocket and other attacks by militants from Gaza.
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