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UN chief urges swift Security Council action to end Gaza crisis
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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday urged the Security Council to act swiftly to end the worsening crisis in the Gaza Strip following the ground invasion of Israel.

"We must move from debate to action, and must do so immediately, " Ban told a Security Council meeting which brought together Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and foreign ministers from some Arab nations, the United States, Britain and France.

Citing unconfirmed reports, Ban said that over 570 Palestinians have been killed and over 2,700 injured since the conflict broke out 11 days ago.

On the Israeli side, five soldiers and another 50 have been injured, in addition to four civilians killed and dozens injured in the more than 500 rocket attacks, he said.

"The only answer is an end to the violence," he said. "Whatever the rationale of the combatants, only an end to violence and a political way forward can deliver long-term security and peace."

Ban said he plans to travel next week to Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and to regional capitals.

"But I do not believe we can wait until then to end the violence. we must achieve that now," he said.

"To do so, there must be an immediate cease-fire, durable and respected fully by all sides. Immediate humanitarian measures including open crossings for humanitarian assistance should be ensured. Viable international mechanisms will be required to ensure that the borders are properly functioning," he said.

"This council has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.

"I hope that the council will act swiftly and decisively to put this crisis to an end," he added.

(Xinhua News Agency January 7, 2009)

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