UN Chief: Gaza is 'An Open Wound'

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urges Israel to "exercise maximum restraint" and spare civilian lives in Gaza.

Elad Benari and AFP ,

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Israel on Sunday to "exercise maximum restraint" and spare civilian lives in its campaign in Gaza, AFP reports.

He also condemned what he called the "atrocious action" of Israel in Shejaiya, near Gaza City, where 62 people were killed in an Israeli attack on Hamas terrorists.

The United Nations chief made his remarks in Doha at the start of a regional trip aimed at pushing for a ceasefire in Gaza.

"While I was en route to Doha, dozens more civilians, including children had been killed in Israeli military strikes in Shejaiya. I condemn this atrocious action," he was quoted by AFP as having told a news conference.

"Israel must exercise maximum restraint and do far more to protect civilians," he said, adding that it also "must respect the humanitarian law".

"Too many innocent people are dying...(and) living in constant fear" in the coastal strip controlled by Hamas, he said.

"Gaza is an open wound. We must stop the bleeding now," said Ban, adding that beyond a ceasefire the "root causes of the conflict" must be addressed.

Ban is also travelling to Kuwait City, Cairo, Jerusalem, Ramallah and Amman.

He is due to meet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo on Monday to discuss proposals for a Gaza truce.

Egypt's foreign ministry said their talks would "focus on the deteriorating situation in Gaza and the Egyptian initiative for a ceasefire".

Ban’s singling out of Israel is the second time in several days that he has done so. On Thursday, Ban urged Israel to "do far more" to spare civilians after it launched a ground offensive in Gaza.

"I regret that despite my repeated urgings, and those of many regional and world leaders together, an already dangerous conflict has now escalated even further," Ban told reporters.

"I urge Israel to do far more to stop civilian casualties. There can be no military solution to this conflict," he added.

Also last week, the UN chief urged Israel to scrap plans for a ground operation in Gaza, saying that "too many" Palestinian Arab civilians have been killed.