5 January 2005

Secretary-General ‘Gravely Concerned’ over Killing of Palestinian Civilians in Gaza Strip

NEW YORK, 4 January (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The Secretary-General is gravely concerned over the killing of at least seven Palestinian civilians and the injury of others caused by Israeli Defence Force (IDF) operations in the northern Gaza Strip conducted earlier today.  He is particularly disturbed that at least five of the victims were under the age of 18.  The Israeli military operations followed a marked increase in recent days of Qassam rocket attacks by Palestinian militants.

The Secretary-General renews his call on both parties to follow their obligations under international law and in particular to ensure the protection of the civilian population.  The Secretary-General underlines the vital importance of exercising maximum restraint and responsibility during this critical period before the 9 January Palestinian presidential elections.

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