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Deploring ‘spiral of violence’ in Middle East, Annan urges return to talks

Deploring ‘spiral of violence’ in Middle East, Annan urges return to talks

The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, today deplored the “deepening spiral of violence” between Israel and the Palestinians and urged both sides to return to the negotiating table.

In a statement released by his spokesman, Mr. Annan expressed dismay at Israel’s shelling yesterday of facilities belonging to the Palestinian Authority in Gaza near civilian areas with bombs of heavy tonnage, which caused substantial damage to UN offices and injury to two UN employees.

“The Secretary-General reiterates his belief that no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be found through violence and retaliation,” the statement said, calling on both sides to “make every effort to achieve a durable ceasefire and return to the negotiating table, as there is no alternative to a political solution of this conflict.”

According to spokesman Fred Eckhard, Sunday’s raid by Israel caused one UN staff member to suffer a back injury when shattered glass landed on him, while another suffered a concussion and an eye injury in similar circumstances. Both were expected to recover. Two additional staff members in the building were thrown from their desks to the floor, but escaped injury.

“Damage to the UNSCO [Office of the UN Special Coordinator] compound includes blown windows, damage to the side wall and a total roof collapse in the compound annex,” Mr. Eckhard said.