United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon was more contained than usual, but he continued to criticize Israel’s counter-terror operation in Gaza during a visit to Jerusalem on Tuesday.
Ban previously condemned Israeli counter-terror operations in Gaza as “atrocious” and called for Israel to “do far more to protect civilians.”
He had a more moderate message in a joint press conference with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Israel. He began by declaring that the UN “strongly” condemns rocket attacks, and added, “we condemn the use of civilian sites, schools, hospitals and other civilian facilities for military purposes.” He agreed with Israel's right to defend itself from the attacks as rocket alerts continued throughout his speech.
Ban also urged Israel to exercise “maximum restraint.” He said he had the same message for both Israelis and Palestinians, “Stop fighting, start talking, and take on the root causes of the conflict.”
He argued that military operations will not bring stability, and that a “two-state solution” is the only way forward.
Netanyahu countered Ban’s statements, saying that Hamas is the same as al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and ISIS, presenting a danger to the entire world. There is no one to talk to, he said.. “They don’t want a two state solution. They don’t want any solution,” he declared "They want to destroy us".
Netanyahu noted that Israel has accepted three separate ceasefire agreements, but that each was rejected, or violated, by Hamas. “Hamas wants more civilian casualties,” he accused.
Switching to Hebrew from his speech in English so as to address Israeli listeners, the Prime Minister promised to continue the Operation until quiet is restored to Israel and Hamas infrastructure destroyed. He expressed sympathy for the bereaved families, wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded, and pride at the courage of the IDF soldiers fighting in Gaza.