UN chief stresses 'critical importance' of ending hostilities in Gaza
Updated: 2014-07-29 11:24
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a news conference in Tel Aviv July 28, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]
UNITED NATIONS -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday underlined "the critical importance" of ending hostilities in the Gaza Strip, and strongly urged all sides to "avoid any further escalation at this time."
The UN chief, in a statement issued here by his spokesman, said that he has learned with concern that leaflets are reportedly being dropped by the Israeli Defence Forces in the northern Gaza Strip Monday evening, warning tens of thousands of residents to leave their homes and evacuate to Gaza City.
"If true, this would have a further devastating humanitarian impact on the beleaguered civilians of those areas of the Gaza strip, who have already undergone immense suffering in recent days," the statement said.
"The United Nations agencies present in Gaza do not have the resources on the ground to cope with, or provide assistance to, an enormous extra influx of desperate people," said the statement.
"The secretary-general strongly urges all sides to avoid any further escalation at this time," the statement said.
"He notes that all sides must meet all obligations under international humanitarian law, both toward civilians ahead of impending attacks, as well as maintaining proportionality in any kind of military response," said the statement.
"The secretary-general reiterates his condemnation of the firing of rockets and the building of tunnels into Israel from Gaza," it said.
Earlier on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the UN Security Council's call for ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, saying it strengthens Hamas and neglects Israel's security needs, according to a press release by his office.
In a telephone talk with the secretary-general, Netanyahu slashed at Monday's call by the council for "an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire."
The United Nations and the United States are mounting pressure to halt the 21-day raging conflict between Israel and Hamas-ruled Gaza, which so far has claimed the lives of more than 1,030 Palestinians, at least 70 percent of whom were civilians, and 46 Israelis, including 43 soldiers.
Israel said on Monday it embarks on a new "unlimited ceasefire" policy but both sides failed to achieve even a temporary lull. By noon, Israel resumed artillery shelling and air strikes in the northern Gaza Strip, saying the shooting was aimed at sites from which militants have fired rockets earlier.
At least two people were killed by the attacks, including a four-year-old child from Jabaliya. Hamas also resumed rocket fire, launching rockets toward southern Israel. No casualties or injuries were reported by Israeli side.
On Sunday, Israel and Hamas launched fresh attacks despite back-and-forth over proposals for another temporary truce. Following intense US and UN mediation efforts, both sides agreed on a 12-hour ceasefire on Saturday, but that lull could not be sustained.
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