UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday urged Israel and the Palestinians to stop the bloodshed in Gaza as he sought to broker an end to a fortnight of deadly violence.
Speaking at a news conference after arriving in Tel Aviv, Ban described Hamas rocket fire on Israel as “shocking,” saying it must “stop immediately.”
“My message to Israelis and Palestinians is the same: Stop fighting, start talking and take on the root causes of the conflict so that we are not at the same situation in the next six months or a year,” he said.
The secretary-general said he had seen photographic and video evidence of Palestinian rocket fire on Israel, describing it as “quite shocking” and saying all countries had an “international obligation to protect” their citizens.
“The UN position is clear: we condemn strongly rocket attacks. These must stop immediately,” he said.
But Israel must exercise “maximum restraint,” Ban said as the body count in Gaza soared over 600, with many of the victims women and children. Some 30 Israelis have been killed, most of them soldiers, since the start of the ground offensive, as Israel bids to stop Hamas rocket fire and terror tunnels, and to degrade its terrorist infrastructure.
And he urged the Jewish state to take a hard look at some of the root causes of the violence.
“We must address the underlying issues including mutual recognition, occupation, despair and denial of dignity so people will not feel they have to resort to violence as a means of expressing their grievances,” he said.