UN chief pleas for Gaza ceasefire

gaza

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has appealed for a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.

Mr Ban urged both sides to exercise restraint, saying the Middle East could not afford “another full-blown war”.

More than 80 Gazans have been killed since Israel’s operation began on Tuesday, Palestinian officials say.

Israel says it has hit more than 100 targets in Gaza since midnight, while Palestinian militants are continuing to fire rockets into Israel.

Israel launched its operation after a surge in rocket-fire amid a crackdown on Hamas members in the West Bank last month, as Israel hunted for the abductors of three Israeli teenagers.

The teenagers were found murdered, and tensions were raised further with the killing of a Palestinian teenager in a suspected revenge attack days later.

Israel says its targets in Operation Protective Edge have been militant fighters and facilities, and that “dozens of terrorists” have been killed.

But the Palestinian health ministry says many of those who have died were women and children.

More than 20 people have been killed in the latest air raids on Gaza, Palestinian officials say – most of whom were in a house and a cafe in Khan Younis.

Elsewhere on Thursday:

  • Three people died in an Israeli air strike on a car in the west of Gaza City, Palestinian media reports said. Reuters said the victims were militants from Islamic Jihad
  • Three people were killed in an air strike targeting a Hamas activist in the northern town of Beit Lahiya, Palestinian officials said
  • The Palestinian health ministry said that in addition to the dead, some 540 people had been injured overall
  • According to Israel’s Channel 2 TV, at least two people have been seriously injured in Israel
  • The armed wing of Hamas said it had fired two M75 rockets at Tel Aviv – Israel said its Iron Dome missile defence system had intercepted one. The Israeli military also said communities in the southern Negev desert were targeted.
  • d”, adding people had returned to the building too soon following a telephone warning.
  • The home was said to be that of Odeh Kaware, a local Hamas commander.

    Israeli sources say a second warning was given when a projectile without a warhead was fired at the building in a tactic known as a “tap on the roof”, but people went back.

    “They were told to leave, they returned, and the missile was already on the way. It was too late,” the Jerusalem Post newspaper quoted an Israeli security source as saying.

    The Palestinian Maan news agency said dozens of people had gathered on the roof after the family had been warned by Israel that the building would be targeted.

  • Egypt’s roleSeparately, Egyptian state television said the government had decided to open the Rafah border crossing on Thursday to evacuate some of those wounded in the Israeli attacks.

    Hospitals in North Sinai have been placed on standby and 30 ambulances sent to the crossing.

    Egypt says it is in contact with both sides. But while it has played a key role in the past as a mediator, it currently appears to be biding its time, says the BBC’s Orla Guerin in Cairo.

    Analysts say Egypt is in no hurry to broker a ceasefire that might benefit Hamas – as happened under ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in November 2012.

    Egypt sees Hamas, an offshoot of Mr Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, as a direct threat.

    Having crushed the Brotherhood over the past year, it wants to see Hamas suffer the same fate, our correspondent says. In that sense, it is on the same page with Israel, she adds.