WASHINGTON - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is "deeply concerned by the mounting number of civilian casualties from Israeli military operations in Gaza," a statement released by Ban's spokesperson said on Monday.
In the statement, Ban also expressed his concern of Palestinian infighting, saying he hoped the present ceasefire would hold and calling on the Palestinian Authority to "take the necessary steps to restore law and order, and for all factions to abide by the ceasefire."
Ban also held the Palestinians accountable for firing rockets at Israel's civilian population, calling these attacks "completely unacceptable" and saying they were in violation of international law.
The statement added that the UN chief recognized Israel's right to defend itself, but that he called on Israel
"to abide by international law and to ensure that its actions do not target civilians or put them under risk."
Following the death of a 35-year-old woman
by a Qassam attack in Sderot, the US government expressed its concern of the deteriorating situation, and reiterated its position that Israel has the right to defend itself.
US State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said that he was aware that of the difficulty of trying to target terrorists as they hide behind innocent civilians.
Nonetheless, he cautioned Israel to "take all possible actions in order to avoid any civilian casualties, to avoid any undue damage to the Palestinian infrastructure and always to consider the effects of their actions on the political process, the Israeli-Palestinian track and moving that forward."