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שמעון פרס באן קאי מון מזכ"ל אום מלחמת עזה
Photo: AFP
UN chief: How does one take shelter in 15 seconds?
Ban Ki-moon visits President Peres' Jerusalem residence, meets with Sderot mayor who gives him rose made of Qassam, tells him about suffering of rocket-stricken city's residents
President Shimon Peres met Thursday evening with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the Presidential Residence in Jerusalem.

 

Peres told his guest, "Many countries which are members of the United Nations took part in the bombing of Kosovo, which left dozens of civilians dead. The same countries are indiscriminately criticizing Israel."

 

Sderot Mayor David Buskila, who was also present at dinner hosted by the president, presented the UN chief with a rose made of a Qassam rocket and told Ban about the harsh reality faced by his city's residents, who live under a constant threat of rocket barrages.


 

Peres with Ban in Jerusalem (Photo: AFP)

 

"Sderot's children live in a crazy reality," the mayor explained. "Instead of raising children and teaching them how to live, we teach them how to survive, how not to die of Qassams.

 

"Some 7,500 missiles have been fired at Sderot. I completely support the operation and hope that when it ends missiles will no longer be fired on Sderot's children."

 

Ban told Buskila he would like to relay his sorrow and condolences to all the Sderot families which have lost their loved ones and are suffering from severe physical injuries.

 

Turning to the president, the UN chief said, "I don’t understand how children and residents in Sderot live in such a reality. How can one take shelter from missiles in 15 seconds?"

 

'No citizen should live like this'

Before the meal, Peres and Ban discussed the complex situation in the Gaza Strip and in southern Israel. The president took advantage of the opportunity to raise the Iranian issue.

 

"There's one member of the UN – Iran – which calls for Israel's destruction. Iran has established two additional branches which are helping it try and achieve its goals – Hizbullah in the north and Hamas in the south."

 

The president added, "I have a lot of appreciation for the international public opinion, but public opinion cannot stop the firing of missiles on Israel. Israel could no longer tolerate the targeting of its citizens."

 

Ban told Peres, "These are difficult times for Israel, the Palestinians and the entire region. I would first like to condemn the firing of missiles from Gaza at Israel. This is an act of terror which has no justification and must be stopped.

 

"No citizen of any country should live like this. Israel has the right to live in peace and security and defend its citizens. I have always supported this right and I have always supported that the attitude towards Israel at the UN would be similar to the attitude towards other countries, but Israel's responsibility is also derived from this."

 

At the same breath Ban addressed the suffering of Gaza's residents. "Many people have been killed," he said. "The suffering of the civilian population has become unbearable, and therefore I call for an immediate, prolonged and durable ceasefire.

 

"This was the goal of Resolution 1860: The missile fire must stop and the Israeli operation must end as well. An end must be put to the violence in the region and the civilian bloodshed."

 

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