UN chief urges Gaza ceasefire as Israeli strikes continue
United Nations: With Israeli strikes on Gaza entering into sixth day killing more than 70 people, UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Sunday re-emphasized on the urgency to end the ongoing violence, appealing both the sides to reach an immediate truce.
Ban Ki-moon said he was headed to Cairo to “appeal personally” for ending the Gaza crisis, warning that any “further escalation” must be avoided.”
Even as the international efforts for striking a truce have intensified, the crisis in Hamas-ruled Gaza shows no signs of letup, with more than 70 Palestinians and three Israelis having been killed in six days of violence.
Yesterday, Israel struck Gaza enclave with a barrage of missiles from land and sea, targeting media houses and threatening to "send Gaza back to the Middle Ages".
At least eight Palestinian journalists were injured when air raids hit buildings housing local media offices.
While the first round of strikes destroyed a building housing Arab Al Quds television network, the second round of raids hit a building with offices of Sky News, al-Arabiya, and the official Hamas-run channel al-Aqsa TV.
On Sunday, an Israeli missile leveled a two-story house in a residential neighborhood of Gaza City, killing at least 11 civilians, mostly women and children, Palestinian medical officials said. The attack, which Israel said targeted a militant, was the single deadliest incident of the five-day-old Israeli operation and hiked a toll Sunday that was already the highest number of civilians killed in one day, according to Gaza medics.
With bloodshed continuing, Egypt has taken a leading role in mediating between Israel and Hamas.
President Barack Obama said he had been in touch with the leaders of Israel, Egypt, and Turkey in an effort to halt the fighting. He cautioned against a potential Israeli ground invasion into Gaza, warning it could only deepen its death toll. At the same time, he blamed Palestinian militants for starting the round of fighting by raining rockets onto Israel, and he defended Israel's right to defend itself.
An Israeli envoy arrived in Cairo on Sunday and held talks with Egyptian officials on a cease-fire, according to Egyptian security officials.
But Israel and Gaza's militant Hamas rulers remain far apart on any terms for a halt in the bloodshed, which has killed 73 Palestinians — including 37 civilians, according to Gaza health officials — and three Israeli civilians.