THUNDER BAY – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on Israel to exercise “maximum restraint” in its operation focused on Gaza, saying in Jerusalem that the loss of civilian lives was “unacceptable under any circumstances.” Speaking at a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the two held a meeting, Mr. Ban also said he “strongly cautioned against a ground invasion” of the Palestinian enclave.
The latest wave of violence – which includes rocket attacks against Israel from Gaza, and Israeli airstrikes on Gaza – began on 14 November. A chorus of UN officials, beginning with the Secretary-General, have appealed for an end to the violence and strongly urged the parties to achieve an immediate ceasefire. Overnight reports are in of an explosion aboard a bus in Tel Aviv. It is not the result of a rocket attack, and Israeli officials are speculating it is a terrorist attack.
The Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu states, “One of the things that we’re doing is trying to resist and counter a terrorist barrage which is aimed directly at our civilians, and doing so by minimizing civilian casualties, whereas the terrorist enemies of Israel are doing everything in their power to maximize the number of civilian casualties. Obviously, no country can tolerate a wanton attack on its civilians”.
“Rockets have hit areas just outside of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, as well as Israeli towns near Gaza, killing and injuring civilians,” said Mr. Ban, calling the attacks “unacceptable, irresponsible and reckless. I strongly condemn these actions. Rocket attacks by Palestinian militants targeting Israel must cease immediately.
He added that any further escalation benefits no one. “I know how difficult the situation is here, but Israel must exercise maximum restraint,” he said, also taking noted of an Israeli statement that Israeli military operations focused on “military facilities. While Israeli rockets may be aimed at military targets inside Gaza, they kill and injure civilians and damage civilian infrastructures,” he added. “The loss of civilian lives is unacceptable under any circumstances. The excessive use of force is unlawful and must be rejected”.
In Israel, speaking with the country’s Prime Minister, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “The rocket attacks from terrorist organizations inside Gaza on Israeli cities and towns must end and a broader calm restored. The goal must be a durable outcome that promotes regional stability and advances the security and legitimate aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians alike”.
“President Obama has emphasized these same points in his multiple conversations with President Morsi of Egypt, and we appreciate President Morsi’s personal leadership and Egypt’s efforts thus far. As a regional leader and neighbor, Egypt has the opportunity and responsibility to continue playing a crucial and constructive role in this process,” continued Clinton.