UN chief Ban Ki-moon implores Israel and Hamas to stop Gaza violence

Frustrated at the escalating violence in the Gaza Strip, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon will travel to the Middle East to press for Israel and Hamas to immediately stop fighting and allow humanitarian aid into the Palestinian territory.

By Damien McElroy in Jerusalem and Dina Kraft in Ashdod
The Telegraph (UK)

United Nations Secretary-General  Ban Ki-moon, right, shakes ... 
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, right, shakes hands with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at United Nations Headquarters in New York, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009.(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Mr Ban said he plans to step up diplomatic efforts to get both sides to adhere to a UN cease-fire resolution calling for an end to Israel’s air and ground offensive in Gaza and Hamas’ rocketing of southern Israel.

“To both sides, I say: Just stop, now,” he said. “Too many people have died. There has been too much civilian suffering. Too many people, Israelis and Palestinians, live in daily fear of their lives.”

Since Israel launched its offensive on Dec. 27, Mr Ban said he has been on the phone constantly with top officials in the Middle East, Europe and the United States promoting a cease-fire. But he said phone calls aren’t a substitute for direct talks with leaders who have influence on the parties.

The secretary-general leaves New York on Tuesday and will meet senior officials in Egypt and Jordan Wednesday, then head to Israel, the Palestinian-controlled West Bank, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Kuwait where he said an Arab League summit may add an extra session to tackle the Gaza conflict. His itinerary does not include a stop in Gaza because of the ongoing conflict.

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