U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says there is no time to lose for a
cease-fire in Gaza - or more people will die. He was speaking in
Jerusalem after a day of talks with Israeli leaders, aimed at ending
the nearly three weeks of violence.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon came to try to
negotiate a cease-fire in a day of talks with senior Israeli leaders,
ending with a meeting in Jerusalem with President Shimon Peres.
Speaking to reporters, Mr. Ban repeatedly called for an immediate and urgent cease-fire, respected by both Israel and Hamas.
"The rockets [from Hamas] must stop and the Israeli offensive must cease," he said.
says its military offensive is aimed at stopping Hamas rocket fire into
southern Israel, but Israeli officials say any cease-fire can only hold
if Hamas is prevented from re-arming.
President Peres laid the
blame for the current violence squarely on the shoulders of Hamas, and
accused the militant group of hiding among the civilian population of
"What they did is against all human norms - to bring bombs
into kindergartens, to use human shields for covering the shooting of
missiles against us," he said.
The U.N. chief condemned the Hamas rocket
fire and said he fully supports Israel's right to live in peace and
defend its citizens. But, he said Israel must also act wisely in the
interests of peace.
He urged an immediate end to hostilities and said the issues for a longer-term settlement could be discussed afterwards.
"There is no time to lose," he said. "The longer you take time, the more people will be killed. This is an unbearable situation."
Hamas-run Palestinian health ministry in Gaza says more than 1,000
people have been killed and more than 3,000 injured in the
Israeli offensive. Thirteen Israelis have died in that time span,
including three civilians killed by Hamas rockets.
tone was more measured than earlier in the day when he expressed
outrage at the Israeli shelling of a U.N. compound in Gaza City and
demanded a full explanation. Israeli officials have expressed regret
for the incident, but say their troops fired because they had been
fired upon by militants in the area.
Fighting intensified in
Gaza, as Israeli troops and tanks moved deeper into crowded residential
neighborhoods, sending residents fleeing in panic. One Israeli air
strike killed the Hamas Interior Minister, Said Siam.
rising casualty figures and intense fighting, there is also increasing
pressure to bring an end to hostilities. Mr. Ban has held talks in
Egypt and Jordan. He is scheduled to meet Friday with Palestinian
leaders in Ramallah before traveling to Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and