Tuesday 30 December 2008

UN slams Hamas, Israel over Gaza crisis

UN chief Ban Ki-moon condemns both Hamas and Israel for the war in the Gaza Strip, expressing concern over rising number of civilian casualties.

"I am deeply alarmed by the current escalation of violence in and around Gaza. This is unacceptable," Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said at a press conference at the UN's headquarters in New York.

He also condemned the "excessive use of force by Israel in Gaza" while recognizing "Israel's right to defend itself" against Hamas rocket attacks.

The UN chief expressed concern over the harm caused to children in Gaza and highlighted the need for strict observance of international humanitarian law by both sides of the conflict.

"I am also pained at the death, injury and damage to United Nations personnel and premises as well as to others associated with our programs," he added.

Ban further criticized world powers for not doing enough to stop the fighting. He urged regional and international partners to "use all possible means to end the violence and encourage political dialogue, emphasizing peaceful ways of resolving differences."

He called on Arab foreign ministers-- who are to meet soon in an emergency session-- "to act swiftly and decisively to bring an early end to this impasse," and noted that "other world leaders must also step up efforts to support a longer term resolution of the issue."

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