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UN Chief Wants Immediate Gaza Cease-Fire

A Palestinian girl reacts at the scene of an explosion that medics said killed eight children and two adults, and wounded 40 others at a public garden in Gaza City on July 28.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has called for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza.

Speaking to the press in New York on July 28, he said the people of Gaza have nowhere to run and they are trapped.

Ban said leaders on both sides must show "their political will" to stop the carnage.

"They have to show their humanity as leaders, both Israelis and Palestinians -- particularly when they continue to fight -- it is only the helpless civilians who suffer and are being killed," he said.

He also said there must be accountability for crimes by all sides.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in Washington shortly after Ban's remarks that "any process to solve the crisis in Gaza in a lasting and meaningful way must lead to the disarmament of Hamas and all terrorist groups."

He added that Washington "will work closely with Israel and regional partners and the international community in support of this goal."

On July 28, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the UN Security Council's call earlier in the day for a truce in Gaza.

Netanyahu said the call addressed the needs of Islamist Hamas militants while neglecting Israeli security.

In an emergency session early on July 28, the UN Security Council had called for an "immediate and unconditional" cease-fire in the conflict that has already killed more than 1,030 Palestinians and 45 Israelis -- mostly soldiers.

The council meeting urged Israel and Hamas "to accept and fully implement the humanitarian cease-fire into the Eid period and beyond."

It said this would allow for the delivery of urgently needed assistance.

Eid begins on July 28 in many Muslim countries.

The declaration was agreed upon by all 15 members of the Security Council ahead of the meeting.

The council statement also called on the parties "to engage in efforts to achieve a durable and fully respected cease-fire, based on the Egyptian initiative."

Last week, Cairo came up with a peace plan that, among other things, called on Israel to cease all hostilities in the Gaza Strip, halt all ground operations and refrain from targeting civilians. It also required Palestinian factions to cease hostilities against Israel, halt rocket fire, and cross-border attacks and stop targeting civilians.

Israel and the Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, have agreed to several short-lived cease-fires in the past two days that have been repeatedly broken.

Netanyahu has said Israeli military operations in Gaza will continue for as long as it takes to demilitarize the Gaza Strip -- where Hamas militants are shooting rockets into Israel and using many tunnels to dig under Israeli territory.

With reporting by AFP and AP
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