Monday, December 29, 2008
Question for Ban Ki-moon: What wouldn't constitute "excessive use of force?"
Washington - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday condemned Israel's "excessive use of force" in the Gaza Strip and said that international powers were not doing enough to force a ceasefire on the two sides.
Ban made the statements at a press conference held at the UN's headquarters in New York.
"I am deeply alarmed by the current escalation of violence in and around Gaza. This is unacceptable. I have been repeatedly condemning the rocket attacks by Hamas militants against Israel. While recognizing Israel's right to defend itself, I have also condemned the excessive use of force by Israel in Gaza.
Ban said he was particularly concerned about the harm caused to children in Gaza: "The frightening nature of what is happening on the ground, in particular its effects on children - who are more than half of the population - troubles me greatly. I have continuously stressed the need for strict observance of international humanitarian law.
"I am also pained at the death, injury and damage to United Nations personnel and premises as well as to others associated with our programs."
Ban stated that both Hamas and Israel must halt all violence immediately and enter dialogue over a ceasefire.
He further criticized world powers for not doing enough to stop the fighting:" I think regional and international partners have not done enough. They should do more. They should use all possible means to end the violence and encourage political dialogue, emphasizing peaceful ways of resolving differences."
France trying to negotiate truce
According to the UN chief, Arab foreign ministers are going to meet soon in emergency session. "I urge them to act swiftly and decisively to bring an early end to this impasse. At the same time, other world leaders must also step up efforts to support a longer term resolution of the issue."
He also reiterated his call that unhindered access should be ensured for the delivery of humanitarian assistance into the Strip.
Meanwhile, a diplomatic source in France said Monday that French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner is trying to negotiate a humanitarian truce to halt Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip and let in medical aid.
The source said Kouchner had spoken to several European and Middle Eastern foreign ministers during the day, including Israel's Tzipi Livni and Egypt's Ahmed Aboul Gheit.