28 January 2003

Secretary-General Deplores "Ominous" Escalation of Violence in Gaza Strip

NEW YORK, 27 January (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Sunday, 26 January:

The Secretary-General deplores the ominous escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip over the past few days. He is concerned by Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip that place Palestinian civilians in harm's way, and deeply regrets the loss of life and injury resulting from Saturday night's Israeli incursion into Gaza City, which left approximately 12 dead and scores wounded. He is concerned by the preceding rocket attacks against Israel launched from the Gaza Strip on Friday, and a similar attack earlier today, and believes that they are counterproductive to peace efforts, such as the Palestinian ceasefire talks under way in Cairo.

The Secretary-General calls on both sides to act with restraint, in keeping with their obligations under international humanitarian law. He urges them to take steps to break the cycle of violence that has claimed so many Israeli and Palestinian lives in recent years. He remains convinced that the only way forward is a process that addresses political, security and economic issues in parallel, as set forth in the Quartet's road map.

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