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UN chief strongly urges "immediate ceasefire" between Israel, Palestinian militants


08:29, November 19, 2012

UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday strongly urged Israel and Palestinian militants "to cooperate with all efforts led by Egypt to reach an immediate cease," saying that "any further escalation will inevitably increase the suffering of the affected civilian populations."

The secretary-general made the statement after Israel and the Palestinian militants brushed aside the call of the international community for an immediate end to the air strikes on Gaza and the rocket firing into southern Israel by widening Gaza assault and continuous rocket firing against Israeli towns.

"This must stop," Ban said. "I strongly urge the parties to cooperate with all efforts led by Egypt to reach an immediate cease fire."

"Any further escalation will inevitably increase the suffering of the affected civilian populations and must be avoided, " the secretary-general said.

Palestinian rocket fire and Israeli airstrikes continued on Sunday as the Israeli Operation Pillar of Defense entered its fifth day.

On Saturday, Israel broadened its assault on the Gaza Strip from mostly military targets to centers of government infrastructure, obliterating the four-story headquarters of the leading Hamas officials with a barrage of five bombs before dawn, media reports said.

Another barrage of rockets was launched from the Gaza Strip to Tel Aviv on Sunday evening, for the second time in 24 hours, the reports said.

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