[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] Thursday condemned Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip [BBC backgrounder] and called on Israel to end its use of "disproportionate and excessive force" against Palestinians. Speaking at a summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference [group website] in Senegal, Ban said [transcript]:
Let me use this opportunity to once again urge Israel and the Palestinian Authority, together with their regional partners and the Quartet, to take urgent measures to ease the suffering in Gaza and give hope to its people.Haaretz has more. The UN News Centre has additional coverage.
As I told the Security Council when I briefed them earlier this month, Israel's disproportionate and excessive use of force has killed and injured many civilians, including children. I condemn these actions and call on Israel to cease such attacks. Israel must fully comply with international humanitarian law and exercise utmost restraint.
At the same time, I also condemn the rocket attacks directed against Israel and call for the immediate cessation of such acts. They serve no purpose, endanger Israeli civilians and bring misery to the Palestinian people.
Last week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official profile] called on Israel [press release; JURIST report] to conduct an impartial investigation into the deaths of Palestinians during the attacks. In January, Arbour criticized [JURIST report] an Israeli blockade of Gaza, saying that the Israel's policy of collective punishment, disproportionate use of force and targeted killings had helped precipitate problems in the area. Israeli troops began to withdraw from Gaza last Monday after an incursion last month, but Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert [JURIST news archive] warned that strikes would continue [Haaretz report] against local Hamas targets.