United Nations: Amid intensified fighting between Gaza and Israel, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is planning to visit the region soon and has urged Israel to exercise maximum restraint while cautioning that further bloodshed will hamper possibility of any negotiations over a two-state solution.
Ban said he is "extremely concerned" about the continued violence in Gaza and Israel and deeply worried by the rising cost in terms of civilian lives, his spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters here yesterday.
"The Secretary-General has continued to speak with international and regional leaders and officials by telephone and in person as part of his efforts to call for restraint and push for an end to violence.
"As part of those efforts, he plans to visit the region shortly," his spokesperson added.
Since Wednesday when an Israeli strike killed a Hamas commander, at least 30 Palestinians have been killed, and over 280 wounded, and Gaza militants have fired hundreds of rockets at Israel, killing three people and wounding 16.
Strongly urging Israel to "exercise maximum restraint," Ban appealed to all concerned parties to do everything under their command to stop "this dangerous escalation and restore calm".
"Rocket attacks are unacceptable and must stop at once," he said.
Ban said his paramount concern is for the safety and well being of all civilians and stressed that all sides must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law.
"A new cycle of bloodshed will make neither Israelis nor Palestinians more secure. Nor will bloodshed open the door to negotiations that could achieve the two-state solution necessary to end such violence permanently," the UN Chief said.
Earlier this week, Ban had spoken by telephone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi about the escalating violence, while the Security Council met in a closed, late-night session on the situation.