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Ban: Israel And Hamas Must Halt Violence

Israel And Hamas Must Halt Violence; Humanitarian Supplies Must Enter Gaza – Ban

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today demanded that Israel and Hamas halt their acts of violence, take all necessary measures to avoid civilian casualties, and that Israel keep open all border crossings necessary for the continued provision of humanitarian supplies to Gaza.

“A ceasefire must be declared immediately,” Mr. Ban said in a statement he himself read to the news media. “They must also curb their inflammatory rhetoric. Only then can dialogue start.”

He faulted regional and international partners are not doing enough. “They should do more. They should use all possible means to end the violence and encourage political dialogue, emphasizing peaceful ways of resolving differences,” he said.

At the same time, other world leaders must also step up efforts to support a longer term resolution of the issue, he added.

“I expect all parties to fully heed my call,” he declared. “In particular, Israel must keep opening all border crossings necessary for the continued provision of humanitarian supplies. The Israeli Government leaders have given me a guarantee that such supplies and personnel would be allowed entry into Gaza. This cooperation must ΰontinue on a rolling basis in the coming daΌs, Mr. Ban stῲessed.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes said 60 truckloads of supplies had been allowed into Gaza today, including four with medical supplies. He said that there were “just about enough supplies” in Gaza at the moment, but if the number of casualties increases humanitarian efforts could be overwhelmed.

Mr. Ban noted that he had repeatedly condemned rocket attacks by Hamas militants against Israel, which Israel has cited as the reason for its present operation. “While recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself, I have also condemned the excessive use of force by Israel in Gaza,” he said. “The sufferings caused to civilian populations as a result of the large-scale violence and destruction that have taken place over the past few days has saddened me profoundly.

“The frightening nature of what is happening on the ground, in particular, its effects on children who are more than half of the population troubles me greatly. I have continuously stressed the need for strict observance of international humanitarian law.”

Mr. Ban also deplored injury and damage to UN premises and personnel as well as to others associated with UN programmes. “All this must stop,” he declared.

Noting that Arab Foreign Ministers will meet soon in emergency session, he urged them “to act swiftly and decisively to bring an early end to this impasse.”

He said he had consulted with various international leaders on the escalation of violence, including Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa.

“I reiterate my call that unhindered access should be ensured for the delivery of humanitarian assistance,” Mr. Ban stressed.

“The United Nations, through the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, and other agencies on the ground have been in continuous contact with all relevant authorities and mobilizing themselves to provide much needed assisῴance and alleviate civilian suffering.

ENDS

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