UN condemns collapse of truce between Israel, Palestinians

UN condemns collapse of truce between Israel, Palestinians

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has strongly condemned the collapse of a humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, asking Israel and the Palestinians factions to reach an immediate understanding on a durable truce.

A statement issued by Ban's spokesman said he is "gravely disappointed" by the return to hostilities by both sides and condemns "in the strongest terms" the breach of the Egyptian brokered humanitarian ceasefire which was to expire at midnight local time.

The Secretary-General "reminds both sides of their responsibility not to let the situation escalate," the statement said.

"The hopes of the people in Gaza for a better future and the hopes of the people in Israel for sustainable security rest on the talks in Cairo," it said. Ban urged the parties to reach an immediate understanding on a durable ceasefire which also addresses the underlying issues afflicting Gaza.

The ceasefire collapsed after rockets from Gaza reached Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and Israel resumed airstrikes in Gaza. Israel recalled its negotiators from ceasefire talks in Cairo following the airstrikes from Gaza.

Ban's Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry told the UN Security Council yesterday that the toll of the third major escalation between Israel and Hamas in six years was "appalling", with almost 2,000 Palestinians killed, of whom 459 were children and 239 were women, and some 10,000 Palestinians injured.

He said 64 Israeli soldiers, two Israeli civilians and one foreign national were killed, with a few dozen Israelis injured by rockets or shrapnel. Approximately 16,800 housing units in Gaza had been destroyed or severely damaged, Serry said.

On the violence in the West Bank, he said that since July 23, demonstrations against Israeli operations in Gaza had taken place almost daily, often resulting in clashes with Israeli security forces.  

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