Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Ban Intensifies Diplomatic Push for Gaza Ceasefire

Ban Intensifies Diplomatic Push for Gaza Ceasefire

New York, Dec 31 2008 3:10PM

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is “on full alert” as he intensifies diplomatic efforts to secure a ceasefire in the Gaza fighting, his spokesperson said today, as other United Nations officials voiced disappointment that Israel has so far rejected the idea of a 48-hour lull.

Mr. Ban is “continuing to work the phones” speaking with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday and Foreign Ministers of Brazil and Canada today, spokesperson Marie Okabe told a news conference, as the surge of Israeli air strikes on Gaza and Hamas rocket attacks into Israel entered its fifth day.

“He will be on full alert over the coming days as he continues to do what he can to work towards a ceasefire,” she said as humanitarian officials painted a grim picture of the situation in Gaza with many people facing “a life or death situation,” grave shortages of vital supplies such as food, and fuel-starved hospitals confronting their largest ever trauma caseloads.

“We’re obviously very disappointed that the proposal for a 48-hour lull or ceasefire, whatever you want to call it, has been rejected but we hope that diplomatic efforts to achieve a ceasefire will bear some fruit in the coming days,” UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes told the same news conference.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was quoted by media reports as saying conditions were not yet ripe for a ceasefire since they had not yet reached the point of promising safety in southern Israel which has been targeted by increasingly longer-range Hamas missiles from Gaza.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

Speaking by video link from Gaza, UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Commissioner-General Karen AbuZayd portrayed the deep disappointment felt by ordinary Gazans.

“This is something that had gone round the public in the markets and so on for those people who are venturing out and they were very disappointed because they’d been rather cheerful, thinking ‘oh good, it’s going to stop for a couple of days at least and we’ll get things in and we’ll have a little bit of peace from the noise of the bombs and the noise of the drones overhead,’” she said.

She noted the traumatic effect the air strikes were having on the civilian population, with some parents trying to quiet their alarmed children by telling them the bombs were the sounds of wedding celebrations.


© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
World Headlines


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.