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UN chief deplores Palestinian deaths, urges against ground offensive

“Too many” Palestinian civilians have been killed, UN chief Ban Ki-moon says as he urges Israel to scrap plans for a potentially devastating ground offensive.

Repeating his call for a ceasefire, the secretary-general says he “feels a sense of responsibility for the Palestinians who, especially in the Gaza Strip, have long been denied the sense of freedom and dignity that they deserve,” according to a statement released by his spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivers a speech at the UN Human rights Council session on March 3, 2014 in Geneva. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI)
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivers a speech at the UN Human rights Council session on March 3, 2014 in Geneva. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI)

The situation in Gaza, with at least 170 Palestinians killed and no Israeli casualties, “appears to be worsening,” Ban says, noting that the UN Security Council’s call for a ceasefire Saturday had not been respected.

Reiterating his condemnation of the firing of rockets into Israel by Hamas, Ban demands an “immediate cessation of these indecent attacks.”

But a “deeply worried” UN chief also stresses that “too many Palestinian civilians have been killed, and any Israeli ground offensive will undoubtedly increase the death toll and exacerbate civilian suffering in the Gaza Strip.”

“It is in the interest of both sides that steps toward dangerous escalation be replaced with immediate measures to end the fighting, thus preventing further casualties and greater risks to regional peace and security,” the statement adds.

“[Ban] demands both sides move in this direction now.”

– AFP

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