Distressed by raids into Palestinian refugee camps, Annan urges Israeli pullout

Distressed by raids into Palestinian refugee camps, Annan urges Israeli pullout

Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Reacting to intensifying clashes and bloodshed in the Middle East, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on the Israel Defence Force (IDF) to immediately withdraw from Palestinian refugee camps and urged both sides to halt attacks against civilians.

Reacting to intensifying clashes and bloodshed in the Middle East, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on the Israel Defence Force (IDF) to immediately withdraw from Palestinian refugee camps and urged both sides to halt attacks against civilians.

“I much regret that today has seen yet another escalation of violence in the Middle East and more attacks on civilians by both sides, taking the number of deaths in the last 17 months to more than a thousand on the Palestinian side, and 288 on the Israeli side,” said Mr. Annan, who is currently in Berlin on an official visit to Germany.

Noting that within the last 48 hours, 5 Israelis and 16 Palestinians had lost their lives, Mr. Annan said, “What distresses me particularly is that this time, as a result of incursions into refugee camps by the Israel Defence Force, large numbers of Palestinians are reported dead or injured.”

“I call on the IDF to withdraw from these camps immediately, and I implore both sides to refrain from further actions which may endanger yet more civilian lives,” he said. “They should remember that international law requires them to avoid and prevent attacks on civilians, and to respect the immunity of humanitarian facilities, including those of the United Nations.”

Mr. Annan stressed that a ceasefire “is more acutely needed than ever” but added that “once again, only renewed political negotiations can produce a ceasefire that will last.”

In Gaza, meanwhile, the Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) voiced “deep dismay and concern at the heavy casualties and loss of life,” as well as the occupation by Israeli forces of a school run by the Agency during the incursion into Jenin and Nablus.

Mr. Hansen also expressed his deep concern for the safety of the population in the two camps, which have been under heavy fire throughout much of the day, and underscored Israel’s “obligation, in accordance with international law, to ensure the security and safety of UN staff and installations.”