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Latest Middle East violence, civilian protection?

Reacting to latest Middle East violence, Annan urges protection of civilians

Voicing concern about stepped up violence in the Middle East, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has repeated his call on all parties to respect international law and ensure the protection of civilians.

“The Secretary-General is gravely concerned about the escalation of Israeli Defence Forces military operations in the past days, especially in Nablus and Gaza, which have resulted in a number of Palestinian deaths,” a spokesman for Mr. Annan said in a statement late Friday, noting that civilians are reportedly among the casualties.

Through his spokesman, the Secretary-General also expressed concern about a “marked increase in rocket attacks by Palestinian militants against Israeli targets.”

The Secretary-General renewed his call to the parties to the conflict to abide by their obligations under international law, “and in particular to ensure the protection of the civilian population, both Palestinian and Israeli,” the spokesman said.

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