UN chief concerned over "deteriorating situation" between Israel, Palestinians

UN chief concerned over "deteriorating situation" between Israel, Palestinians
# 15 November 2012 05:26 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, reacting to the deadly Israeli rocket attack on the Hamas military leader, Wednesday voiced his concern over "the deteriorating situation" and "the worrisome escalation of violence" between Israel and the Palestinians, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

In both telephone conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Ban expressed his concern about the escalating violence in southern Israel and the Gaza Strip.

"The secretary-general reiterated his strong condemnation of rocket fire out of Gaza and noted his expectation that Israeli reactions are measured so as not to provoke a new cycle of bloodshed that could cause additional civilian casualties and have dangerous spillover effects in the region," said readouts of telephone conversation issued by the office of the spokesman for Ban.

"He calls on the parties to exercise the utmost restraint and to respect international humanitarian law," said the readouts.

The conflict between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip has been escalating in recent days.

On Saturday, Palestinian militants fired an anti-tank missile against a patrol jeep of the Israeli Defense Forces, wounding four soldiers.

In retaliation, the Israeli Air Force carried out several air strikes on Palestinian targets in Gaza and killed on Wednesday Ahmed al-Jaabari, head of Ezz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, and his escort. A large number of Israeli troops amassed along the border, possibly for a ground invasion.

It was answered by more than 150 rockets and mortar shells launched by Hamas into southern Israel.

Also on Wednesday, Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian's permanent observer to the United Nations, has called the situation "explosive" and "condemned the Israeli strikes in the strongest term."

"They are opening a war on us," he told reporters here earlier Wednesday

Egypt has called for an emergency Security Council session on the attack and the UN Secretariat scheduled a closed-door briefing for the council late Wednesday night.

"Our understanding that the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza so far is nine and the number is increasing and there is a large number of people injured," Mansour said, after meeting with UN officials and before the council meeting was scheduled.

Under the UN Charter, the Security Council, the most powerful UN body, has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security in the world at large.

According to Mansour, the Palestinian Authority is coordinating its actions with the Arab League and Egypt.

"The Israeli aggression is, as you know, synchronized with our efforts of asking the GA (General Assembly) to act on our draft resolution on the 29th of this month," he said, adding that the attacks were "to divert attention from the efforts in the GA."

Israel's permanent representative to the United Nations Ron Prosor said Wednesday's offensive was in response to Palestinian militants "indiscriminate rocket firing" into southern Israel. "Israel will do whatever it can to defend our citizens," he added.

The Palestinians have indicated they will seek observer state status at the world organization at the end of this month. It would open the way to membership in other UN entities.

Israel has said such a move will not be in accordance with previous peace agreements.