UN compound after Israeli strike
Photo: AP
'Resolve conflict.' Ban
Photo: Roee Idan

UN chief seeks Israeli explanation on Gaza schools

Ban demands thorough investigation by Israel of 'several incidents of outrageous attacks against UN facilities', violence in Strip sign of 'collective failure'

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday he expected Israel to provide urgently a full explanation of attacks on UN facilities in Gaza and said those responsible must be held accountable.


Reporting to the UN Security Council on his return from the Middle East, Ban said the recent violence in Gaza was a sign of "collective political failure" and called for a "massive international effort" to end the Arab-Israeli conflict.


Ban visited the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Tuesday to pledge aid for Palestinians after Israeli attacks killed 1,300 and made thousands homeless in a 22-day assault Israel said was to stop Hamas firing rockets at southern Israel.


Hamas and Israel independently declared ceasefires on Sunday and Israel has withdrawn its troops from Gaza.


Ban said he had demanded a thorough investigation by Israel of "several incidents of outrageous attacks against UN facilities," including UN-run schools that were being used as shelters and a warehouse storing aid supplies.


'Plans to end Arab-Israeli conflict in place'

Israel blames Hamas for fighting around civilians and sites run by the United Nations, which provides support for much of the 1.5 million population.


"I expect to receive a full explanation of each incident and that those responsible will be held accountable for their actions," Ban told the Security Council in a report delivered for him by Under-Secretary-General Lynn Pascoe because Ban had lost his voice.


He said Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had promised to provide the results of an inquiry "on an urgent basis," and he would decide on any appropriate follow-up steps when he had heard Israel's explanation.


Ban said Palestinian reconciliation was vital and appealed to Arab countries and the international community to support efforts to reconcile the two rival factions -- President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement, in the West Bank, and Hamas, which drove Fatah out of the Gaza Strip in 2007.


Ban said the tools and plans to end the Arab-Israeli conflict were in place in Security Council resolutions and an Arab peace initiative, but the political will had been lacking.


"Nothing short of a massive international effort is now required to support, and insist on, a resolution of this conflict," Ban said. 


פרסום ראשון: 01.21.09, 23:47
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