UN boss urges Israel to hold fire

Friday, January 16 10:20 am


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon has urged Israel to hold its fire 
unilaterally in the Gaza Strip. Skip related content
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UN boss urges Israel to hold fire
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Mr Ban also repeated that he believes a ceasefire agreement between Israel and 
Hamas can be achieved in the next few days, saying: "It is time now to even 
think about a unilateral ceasefire by the Israeli government."

On Thursday, the UN boss condemned as an "outrage" an Israeli attack on a UN 
storage compound in Gaza which destroyed desperately needed food supplies.

The Israeli offensive which began on December 27 has killed some 1,105 
Palestinians and wounded 5,100, the Gaza Health Ministry said. A Palestinian 
human rights group put the civilian death toll at around 700.

Despite world outcry over the carnage and damage to media and UN aid 
facilities, Israel has vowed to fight on until Hamas rocket salvoes stop and 
measures are imposed to stop the Islamists bringing in arms via tunnels from 

Meanwhile, Israel has said its three-week-old offensive in the Gaza Strip could 
be entering its "final act". Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is heading to 
Washington for five days before Barack Obama is due to be inaugurated as US 

Analysts see a deadline for the offensive with the departure of the Bush 
administration, after which Israel may be reluctant to test the support of the 
new leadership.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's spokesman Mark Regev said: "Hopefully we're in the 
final act", adding: "There may be a full security cabinet meeting and decisions 
will stem from that."

Israel is working to secure foreign guarantees that arms smuggling to Hamas 
militants will end under any deal to call off its attacks.

Hamas has offered a year-long, renewable truce under which Israel would 
withdraw its troops within a week and all Gazan's border crossings would open 

In what may be the final push against Hamas, Israeli troops pushed deep into 
central Gaza on Thursday, killing Interior Minister Said Siam, a key figure in 
Hamas who oversaw thousands of security agents.

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