UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday welcomed a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian factions brokered by Egypt, urging both the parties to soon commence talks in Cairo on a durable ceasefire and to change the “tragic status quo” in the Gaza Strip. Ban commended the parties for committing to the ceasefire of 72 hours that began this morning and called on them to abide by it, according to a statement issued by his spokesperson.
He urged the parties to exercise the “utmost restraint”. “The Secretary-General urges the parties to commence, as soon as possible, talks in Cairo on a durable ceasefire and the underlying issues,” the statement said, adding that the UN chief welcomes the proactive engagement of the Palestinian delegation under the leadership of Palestinian Authrioty President Mahmoud Abbas.
“Such talks are the only way to sustainably stop the violence, which has cost far too many lives, and to change the untenable and tragic status quo in Gaza,” he said assuring the United Nations’ support to these efforts.
The announcement of the ceasefire came days after a previous ceasefire brokered by the UN and the US collapsed just 90 minutes after coming into effect. Gaza officials said that the four-week conflict has killed about 1,880 Palestinians – most of them civilians. Some 67 Israelis, all but three of them soldiers, have also died.
Earlier this week, 10 people were killed and 30 others injured in an Israeli attack on a UN-run school in Rafah sheltering about 3,000 displaced Palestinians.
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It was the third deadly attack by Israeli military on a UN school sheltering Palestinians during the conflict that started on July 8. UN officials have said that after weeks of intense fighting, the Gaza strip appears headed towards a “health and humanitarian disaster” with medical services and facilities for nearly 1.8 million Palestinians “on the verge of collapse”.