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Israel: Annan Urges Children Be Shielded From Harm

Top UN Officials Comment On Suicide Blast, Children's Deaths In Middle East

The ongoing violence in the Middle East drew sharp comment from top United Nations officials today, with Secretary-General Kofi Annan stressing the particular need to shield children from harm.

A spokesman for Mr. Annan said the Secretary-General was distressed to learn of the deaths of two Palestinian children over the last few days during the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) operations in the occupied Palestinian territory.

"He is even more disturbed as they follow the killing of two Palestinian children earlier in October," Fred Eckhard said at the daily briefing in New York.

On Thursday nine-year-old Rania Iyad Aram was killed by gunfire on her way to school in Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip. On Saturday morning, 12-year-old Ibrahim Mohammed Kmileh was killed in a refugee camp in the West Bank town of Jenin, while two other boys were wounded.

"The Secretary-General expects that the Government of Israel will launch a rigorous investigation into these incidents and that the results will be made public," Mr. Eckhard said.

Mr. Annan also renewed his calls on the Government of Israel to take effective measures to avoid any harm to Palestinian civilians, and to have special care for the protection of the children, he added.

"He calls on both parties to exercise maximum restraint and responsibility during this critical period," the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, the senior UN envoy for the Middle East peace process denounced a suicide attack of an Israeli market, which killed at least three people and wounded many more.

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A statement issued in Jerusalem for Terje Roed-Larsen said he "condemns in the strongest terms this terrorist act" Monday at the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv.

Mr. Roed-Larsen, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East, reiterated "his firm belief" that nothing can justify terror. "He expects the Palestinian Authority to act without delay against those organizing and perpetrating terror and to bring them to justice," the statement said.

He also extended his condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government of Israel and wished for a speedy recovery of the wounded.

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