Statement of the Secretary-General
CONTINUED ESCALATION IN AND AROUND GAZA
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. The suffering caused to civilian populations as a result of the
large-scale violence and destruction that have taken place over the past
few days has saddened me profoundly.
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
All this must stop. Both Israel and Hamas must halt their acts of
violence and take all necessary measures to avoid civilian casualties. A
ceasefire must be declared immediately. They must also curb their
Only then can dialogue start.
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
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.
During the past few days, I have spoken to the principals of the
Quartet, to regional leaders including Prime Minister Olmert, Foreign
Minister Livni, President Abbas, President Mubarak, President Assad,
Prime Minister Siniora, Prime Minister Erdogan and Secretary-General of
the League of Arab States, Amre Moussa, and to a number of other
leaders, in order to underscore the need to restore calm in full. I
shall continue these efforts personally as well as through my envoys in
I reiterate my call that unhindered access should be ensured for
the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The United Nations, through
the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process
[UNSCO], United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees
in the Near East [UNRWA] and other agencies on the ground have been in
continuous contact with all relevant authorities and mobilizing
themselves to provide much needed assistance and alleviate civilian
I expect all parties to fully heed my call. In particular, Israel
must keep opening all border crossings necessary for the continued
provision of humanitarian supplies. Israeli Government leaders have
given me a guarantee that such supplies and personnel would be allowed
entry into Gaza. This cooperation must continue on a rolling basis in
the coming days.
My colleagues, John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General of OCHA
[Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs] in New York, and
Karen Abu Zayd, Commissioner General of UNRWA and Maxwell Gaylard,
Humanitarian Coordinator, UNSCO, through video links, can provide a
further update on the humanitarian situation and our work in the area.
Thank you for your support.
New York, 29 December 2008.