10 July 2006

Secretary-General Appeals for Israelis, Palestinians "to Pull Back From the Brink"; Reminds Both of Responsibility to Spare Civilian Populations

NEW YORK, 7 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the Statement of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the situation in the Middle East, issued today in Berlin:

As the situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate, I appeal again to both sides to pull back from the brink for the sake of all civilians in the region.

I call again for an immediate halt to the disproportionate use of force by Israel, which has already killed and wounded many civilians; for the release of Israeli Army Corporal Gilad Shalit; and for the cessation of rocket fire into Israel.  These measures are an absolute prerequisite for defusing the tensions which are escalating every day.

I remind both Israelis and Palestinians of their responsibilities under international humanitarian law, which calls on them to take constant care to spare civilian populations and to refrain from any attack which may cause loss of civilian life and property.

I also urge the Security Council to take a clear position on the situation.

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