UN chief welcomes 12-hour humanitarian pause in Gaza

Photo: UN chief welcomes 12-hour humanitarian pause in Gaza / Israel

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Saturday welcomed the "broadly observed" 12-hour humanitarian pause in the Gaza Strip, calling for another seven- day ceasefire.

"As the pause nears end, there are countless images of Gazans trying to return to their daily lives while taking care of their wounded and attending to their dead," said a statement issued here by Ban's spokesperson.

"These images make it clear that we owe to the people of both Israel and Gaza our renewed effort to consolidate this pause in fighting into a more sustainable ceasefire," the statement said.

Therefore, the UN chief urgently appealed once again to all parties to declare a seven-day humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza "as a prelude to renewing a political process as the only way of achieving a durable peace."

He also strongly urged the parties to, at the very minimum, extend the pause expiring later Saturday.

In the statement, Ban further reiterated that "any peace effort that does not tackle the root causes of the crisis will do little more than set the stage for the next cycle of violence."

"The blockade of and the closure on Gaza must end; there must be security based on mutual recognition, and there must be a viable two-state solution by which Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in peace and security," he added.

A 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire came into effect in the Gaza Strip on Saturday as a 19-day Israeli large-scale offensive claimed the lives of more than 900 Palestinians and 37 Israelis.

Overnight both Islamic Hamas movement and Israel accepted a United Nations proposal to go for a 12-hour humanitarian truce to enable rescue teams and paramedics to evacuate bodies and wounded.

Before the 12-hour lull came into effect at 8:00 a.m., 27 Palestinians were killed all over the Gaza Strip after midnight and at predawn, said Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesman of the health ministry in Gaza.

Witnesses said that gunfire and bombings continued until the last moment before the cease-fire came into effect, adding that after the cease-fire became valid, thousands of people began to go to their houses to check them.

Rescue teams with ambulances and paramedics began their hard work to look for survivals, to pick up corps and see if there were still wounded people under the rubble in both Sheja'eya in eastern Gaza city and in Khan Younis.

Follow us on Twitter @TRENDNewsAgency