UN chief Ban Ki-moon has strongly condemned an Israeli attack on a UN-run school in the Gaza Strip that killed 10 Palestinians, terming it as a "moral outrage and a criminal act" and demanding that those responsible for the act should be held accountable.
"It is a moral outrage and a criminal act. United Nations shelters must be safe zones not combat zones," a statement issued by Ban's spokesman said here. "The attack is yet another gross violation of international humanitarian law, which clearly requires protection by both parties of Palestinian civilians, UN staff and UN premises, among other civilian facilities," it said. "This madness must stop," the statement added.
Ten people were killed and 30 others injured yesterday in the Israeli attack on the UN-run school sheltering about 3,000 displaced Palestinians. It was the third deadly attack by Israeli military on a UN school sheltering Palestinians during the conflict that started on July 8.
Ban said the attack, along with other breaches of international law, including similar attacks on UN-administered schools, must be swiftly investigated and those responsible held accountable. He noted that the Israel Defence Forces have been repeatedly informed of the location of UN sites that are providing shelter to civilians.
"The Secretary-General is profoundly dismayed over the appalling escalation of violence and loss of hundreds of Palestinian civilian life since the breach of the humanitarian ceasefire" on August 1. "The resurgence in fighting has only exacerbated the man-made humanitarian and health crisis wreaking havoc in Gaza," he said.
Repeating his demand to the parties to immediately end the fighting and return to the path of peace, Ban said restoring calm can be achieved through resumption of the ceasefire and negotiations by the parties in Cairo to address the underlying issues.