U.N. Chief Calls Gaza Carnage 'Too Much To Bear'

Image: getty images

The ceasefire between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza has come at almost too high a price as the death and destruction from nearly a month of fighting has “shocked and shamed” the world, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday.

A Gaza truce was holding for a second day on Wednesday as Egyptian mediators pursued talks with Israeli and Palestinian representatives on an enduring end to a war that has devastated Gaza, a coastal enclave of 1.8 million people.

“We must spare no effort to turn the current calm into a durable ceasefire that addresses the underlying issues of the conflict,” Ban told an informal meeting of the 193-member United Nations General Assembly. “This ceasefire has come at a price that is almost too much to bear.”

Ban called for an end to rocket fire from Gaza and weapons smuggling as well as lifting an Israeli-Egyptian blockade on Gaza and bringing Gaza back under one Palestinian government that accepts and adheres to international commitments toward peace made by the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007 from forces loyal to Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah faction dominates the Palestinian Authority-run West Bank. In April, Fatah and Hamas, which advocates Israel’s destruction, announced a unity pact and in June, Abbas swore in a unity government.

U.N. Middle East peace envoy Robert Serry said the presence of a unified Palestinian delegation in Cairo for mediation talks was an encouraging development toward the Western-backed Palestinian Authority assuming its responsibilities in Gaza.

“It would be cynical and irresponsible if, yet again, the outcome of the talks would lead us to the previous status quo,” Serry told the General Assembly via video link from Egypt.

Gaza officials say the war has killed 1,867 Palestinians, most of them civilians. Israel says 64 of its soldiers and three civilians have been killed since fighting began on July 8, after a surge in Palestinian rocket launches.

“The massive death and destruction in Gaza have shocked and shamed the world,” Ban said. “The senseless cycle of suffering in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as in Israel, must end.”

Pierre Krähenbühl, head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), told the U.N. General Assembly that United Nations flags across the Palestinian territories were flying at half-mast on Wednesday in memory of 11 U.N. staff killed in the conflict.

He said 90 U.N. buildings had been damaged and that there had been attacks on six U.N. schools that killed dozens of Palestinian civilians who had sought shelter.

Ban called for swift investigation of the attacks on U.N. premises and other suspected breaches of international law.

“U.N. shelters must be safe zones, not combat zones. Those who violate this sacred trust must be subject to accountability and justice,” he said. “Mere suspicion of militant activity does not justify jeopardizing the lives and safety of many thousands of innocent civilians.”

Written by


Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

U.N. Chief Calls Gaza Carnage 'Too Much To Bear'

Thank you!

This article has been sent!