Ban Ki moon heading to Gaza

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will visit war torn Gaza in the next few days.Photo / AP
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will visit war torn Gaza in the next few days.Photo / AP

UN leader Ban Ki-moon will visit the Gaza war region within days to push for a truce between Israel and Hamas as their conflict veers toward all-out war, officials said Friday.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said Ban will go to the region "shortly" to "push for an end to violence" and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said the UN secretary general would visit the Palestinian territories in "two or three days."

Ban will be in Jerusalem on Tuesday or Wednesday, according to UN Diplomats and Israeli media.

"Ban went to the region during the last Israeli offensive against Gaza in 2009 and worked hard to end that conflict. He is looking to produce a truce and ceasefire this time as well," said one senior UN diplomat.

Ban has already spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to urge restraint, while also strongly condemning the rocket attacks from Gaza that Israel blames for its air strikes and its military buildup around the besieged Palestinian territory.

The UN spokesman said the UN leader "urgently appeals to all concerned to do everything under their command to stop this dangerous escalation and restore calm. Rocket attacks are unacceptable and must stop at once. Israel must exercise maximum restraint."

He said Ban was speaking to the leaders of Middle East nations and the major powers "as part of his efforts to call for restraint and push for an end to violence. As part of those efforts, he plans to visit the region shortly."

Ban's "paramount concern" is for civilians on both sides, Nesirky said. The conflict has left at least 23 dead in Gaza and three people in Israel since Wednesday.

"All sides must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law" to protect civilians, Nesirky said.

"A new cycle of bloodshed will make neither Israelis nor Palestinians more secure. Nor will bloodshed open the door to negotiations that could achieve the two-state solution necessary to end such violence permanently," he added.

- AFP

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