(AFP) – Mar 13, 2008
DAKAR (AFP) — UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday condemned Israel's attacks on Palestinian civilians in a speech to a summit of Muslim leaders here.
Ban said Israel had employed "inappropriate and disproportionate use of force" in its renewed attacks on the Palestinian territories and called for an immediate ceasefire by both sides.
Highlighting the deaths of women and children in the Israeli attacks he said, "I condemn these acts and call on Israel to cease them" in his speech to the Organisation of the Islamic Conference summit.
Israeli planes on Thursday hit targets in the northern Gaza Strip, Israeli armed forces announced, effectively ending a five day lull in the violence. The attack came after a dozen rockets were fired at southern Israel from the Gaza Strip.
There had been a sharp escalation in the violence since the end of February in which more than 130 Palestinians were killed, including dozens of militants, and five Israelis, including four soldiers.
At least 351 people, most of them militants on the Hamas run Gaza strip, have been killed since Israel and the Palestinians formally relaunched peace talks at a US conference in late November, according to an AFP count.
The UN chief said "the situation in the Middle East remains precarious"
President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, head of the OCI for the next year, said he would make efforts to end the Middle East conflict his number one priority, while also condemning Israel.
Wade also urged a ceasefire as he opened the OIC summit.
"I ask everyone, Israelis and Palestinians, to today stop the violence wherever they are, as an action or reaction, and to observe a ceasefire so that I can carry out consultations and make propositions," Wade told the assembled leaders, who included Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.
"As president of our organisation I will make my priority the Palestinian problem and the establishment of an internationally recognised Palestinian state inside secure frontiers.
"My priority will be peace between Palestine and Israel," he added, while calling on Israel to end "all of its illegal activities in the occupied territories ... the blind repression inflicted on the Palestinian people."
Wade said he had been asked to try to mediate in the conflict by Israel's President Shimon Peres and also offered to host a conference between rival Palestinian groups to try to "establish a unique federal, collegiate leadership".
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