SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS ON ISRAELI DEFENCE FORCE
Implores Both Sides to Refrain from Actions Endangering Civilians
NEW YORK, 28 February (UN Headquarters) -- Following is a statement by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Berlin today:
I much regret that today has seen yet another escalation of violence in the Middle East and more attacks on civilians by both sides, taking the number of deaths in the last 17 months to more than a thousand on the Palestinian side, and 288 on the Israeli side. Within the last 48 hours, five Israelis and 16 Palestinians have lost their lives.
What distresses me particularly is that this time, as a result of incursions into refugee camps by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF), large numbers of Palestinians are reported dead or injured.
I call on the IDF to withdraw from these camps immediately, and I implore both sides to refrain from further actions which may endanger yet more civilian lives. They should remember that international law requires them to avoid and prevent attacks on civilians, and to respect the immunity of humanitarian facilities, including those of the United Nations.
A ceasefire is more acutely needed than ever but, once again, only renewed political negotiations can produce a ceasefire that will last.
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