Ban Ki-Moon, secretary-general of the virulently anti-Israel United Nations, came to Israel to push for a ceasefire with Hamas.
Ban Ki-Moon told Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, “I appreciate Israel’s security concerns. You need to protect your people from rockets and I strongly condemn the rocket fire. But your military response is causing many civilian casualties. I hope we will be able to see the end of this violence as soon as possible.”
Ya’alon responded with an offer to show Ban how “Hamas fired rockets from schools and mosques, and how they dug tunnels to attack our communities.”
The UN Secretary-General continued, blaming the “occupation” for the escalation in violence, and not Islamic radicalism: “My message is the same. Stop fighting, start talking and take on the root causes of the conflict so we are not at the same situation in another six months or a year. We must address these underlying issues, including occupation … so people do not feel they have to resort to violence.”
Ban rejected the idea that Israel should use military means to combat Hamas’ indiscriminate rocket fire on its sovereign territory: “Military actions will not increase stability in the longer term.”
Later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a joint press conference with the UN chief, explained that the real enemies of Gazans came from within: “The people of Gaza are victims of the brutal Hamas regime,” he said. Netanyahu told Ban, “You spoke about the regional developments. What we are seeing here with Hamas is another instance of Islamist extremist that has no resolvable grievance. Hamas is like ISIS, like al-Qaeda, like Hezbollah, like Boko Haram.”
Ban will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Wednesday in Ramallah.
Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo Tuesday, where he made clear his position that the Egyptian ceasefire initiative is by far the best compromise of any other proposals on the table. Kerry, speaking with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, said that talks had been moving forward, and he hopes to work towards a ceasefire in the coming days. Kerry announced Tuesday that the United States was sending $47 million dollars to Gaza “to alleviate some of the immediate humanitarian crisis.”
Overnight, the IDF struck over one hundred targets in the hotly contested Hamas stronghold of Shujayyah. Two Israeli soldiers were killed in Gaza Monday, raising Israel’s total death toll to 27 since the beginning of the operation. Separately, Delta Airlines and US Airways have announced that they are suspending service to Israel, citing rocket fire in the region surrounding Ben Gurion International Airport.