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Ban Ki-moon Urges Cessation of Violence in Gaza in Call to Israel, Cites Hamas Rockets

RIA Novosti

21:51 28/07/2014

UNITED NATIONS, July 28 (RIA Novosti) - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cease fire in Gaza during a phone conversation.

'I had a long talk with him, again urging him to stop this violence and agree and honor the international community's joint, common efforts and call for an urgent humanitarian unconditional ceasefire,' Ban Ki-moon said.

Saying that Gaza is in 'critical condition,' Ban recounted that 'Israeli missiles have pummeled Gaza. Hamas rockets have randomly struck Israel. No country would accept the threat of rockets from above and tunnels from below. At the same time, all occupying powers have an international legal obligation to protect civilians.'

'The temporary weekend pause in fighting brought a brief respite to war-weary civilians. It also revealed how much the massive Israeli assault has devastated the lives of the people of Gaza. Some described it as a 'man-made hurricane' - whole neighborhoods reduced to debris, rubble; blocks of flattened apartment buildings; scores of bodies still buried under mountains of twisted wreckage,' the secretary-general added.

On the shelling of the UN-run school in Beit Hanoun, Ban Ki-moon said that 'at least 16 Palestinian civilian deaths and more than 200 injuries came as a result of an appalling assault on a UN school in Beit Hanoun. Ongoing hostilities have prevented establishing conclusive responsibility. It is imperative to do so and to have accountability for this outrageous crime.'

The secretary-general concluded that on the Beit Hanoun school shelling, the UN's 'investigation will continue as soon as possible.'

Earlier on Monday, the United Nations Security Council ratified a draft statement calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip to allow for the delivery of urgently needed assistance.

On Sunday, Israel and Hamas observed an humanitarian pause to allow Gaza medics to pull bodies from the rubble.

More than 1,000 Palestinians have died in the ongoing military operation launched by Israel early July against Hamas and its allied militant groups. According to recent estimates, the Israeli side has lost more than 40 soldiers and three civilians.

Israel launched its Operation Protective Edge to put an end to rocket fire from Gaza and undermining the Hamas movement, which controls the region, back on July 8. On July 17, the Israeli Army switched to a ground assault largely aims at locating and destroying rocket launchers and underground tunnels used by militants to penetrate into Israel and to transport weapons.

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