Monday 26 January 2015

UN condemns Hamas for breaking 72 hour Gaza ceasefire

Published 01/08/2014 | 18:27

A Palestinian protester places a tyre into fire during clashes with Israeli troops at a protest against the Israeli offensive in Gaza, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem August 1, 2014
A Palestinian protester places a tyre into fire during clashes with Israeli troops at a protest against the Israeli offensive in Gaza, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem August 1, 2014
A Palestinian protester uses a slingshot to throw a stone at Israeli troops during clashes at a protest against the Israeli offensive in Gaza, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem August 1, 2014
A Palestinian girl carries a child across rubble from a building that police said was destroyed by an Israeli air strike, in the Burij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip
A Palestinian removes his belongings from his destroyed house in the Shejaia neighborhood, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during an Israeli offensive, in the east of Gaza City
A Palestinian man sits outside his destroyed house in the Shejaia neighborhood, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during an Israeli offensive, in the east of Gaza City
A Palestinian woman reacts upon seeing her destroyed house in Beit Hanoun town, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during an Israeli offensive, in the northern Gaza Strip
Israeli soldiers stand on top of a tank in a staging area near the Israel Gaza border. AP
Relatives of Palestinians, whom medics said were killed in an Israeli air strike on their van, grieve at a hospital Gaza City. Reuters
A boy looks through a hole on the wall made by the shelling at the Abu Hussein UN school in the Jebaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. AP
Smoke rises after an Israeli strike hit the offices of the Hamas movement's Al-Aqsa satellite TV station, in Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip. AP
A Palestinian firefighter participates in efforts to put out a fire in a van, which witnesses said was hit in an Israeli air strike, in Gaza City. Reuters
A Palestinian medic shouts for help in front of an apartment building on fire caused by an Israeli strike in Rafah. AP
A Palestinian man reacts at the scene of what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike on a van, in Gaza City. Reuters
An Israeli armoured personnel carrier (APC) drives near the border with the Gaza Strip. Reuters
A Palestinian carries his daughter as they flee, following an Israeli airstrike on an apartment building in Rafah. AP
Palestinian boys, who fled houses following Israeli offensive, play soccer as they take refuge at a United Nations-run school in Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. Reuters
Family members of Israeli soldier Matan Gotlib mourn during his funeral in Rishon Lezion, near Tel Aviv. Reuters
Palestinians gather near a burning building that police said was destroyed by an Israeli Air strike in Gaza City. Reuters
Palestinian Hamas supporters shout slogans against Israel during a protest to support Hamas and against the Israeli offensive on Gaza strip, in the West Bank city of Nablus. Reuters
Smoke rises after an Israeli strike in Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip. AP
Rockets are fired from Gaza Strip towards Israel as international efforts to end the 23-day-old conflict seemed to sputter despite concern over the mounting death toll. AP
Smoke and sand from an explosion rise after an Israeli strike in Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip. AP
An Israeli woman surveys the damage after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza landed in the southern town of Kiryat Gat. Reuters
Palestinian protesters walk near a burning rubbish bin during clashes with Israeli troops at a protest against the Israeli offensive in Gaza, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem August 1, 2014

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has blamed Hamas for violating the ceasefire in Gaza and demanded the immediate and unconditional release of an Israeli soldier reportedly captured after it started.

The UN chief urged both sides "to show maximum restraint and return to the agreed 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire that tragically lasted such a brief period of time".

Israel and Hamas are accusing each other of breaking the ceasefire, which had been announced by the United States and the United Nations and took effect at 8am local time on Friday. The fighting broke out less than two hours later, and the apparent capture of the Israeli soldier could lead to a major escalation of the 25-day-old conflict.

"The secretary-general condemns in the strongest terms the reported violation by Hamas of the mutually agreed humanitarian ceasefire which commenced this morning," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. "He is shocked and profoundly disappointed by these developments."

Ban noted that the UN has no independent means to verify exactly what happened Friday morning, Dujarric said, but according to the latest reports, two IsraeIi soldiers were killed and one taken captive after the ceasefire came into effect.

"This would constitute a grave violation of the ceasefire, and one that is likely to have very serious consequences for the people of Gaza, Israel and beyond," Dujarric said. "Such moves call into question the credibility of Hamas' assurances to the United Nations."

The UN chief is also deeply concerned at the resumption of Israeli attacks on Gaza.

"Instead of giving both sides, especially Gazan civilians, a much needed reprieve to let them attend to their injured, bury their dead and repair vital infrastructure, this breach of the ceasefire is now leading to a renewed escalation," Dujarric said.

UN political chief Jeffrey Feltman told reporters that Ban is "profoundly disappointed" that the assurances from Hamas were not kept.

"Our goal was very clear: we need to end the killing," Feltman said.

He said the capture of the Israeli soldier will make it more difficult to get back to the point when a ceasefire was announced.

Dujarric said the secretary-general is urging "those with influence over the parties to do everything to convince them to observe the humanitarian ceasefire".

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