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UN urges immediate Israel-Palestine ceasefire
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The UN Security Council on Sunday morning expressed "serious concern" over the latest conflict in the Gaza Strip and called for an "immediate" end to the violence there.

"The members of the council express serious concern at the escalation of the situation in Gaza, and call for an immediate halt to violence," said Croatia's UN Ambassador Neven Jurica, the council president for this month, after an emergency council meeting on the latest clashes between Israelis and Palestinians.

The council called on the parties to "stop immediately all military activities," he said.

It also urged all parties to "address the serious humanitarian and economic needs in Gaza," adding that it was necessary to open all border crossings to ensure the continuous provision of humanitarian supplies, he said.

The council also stressed the "need for the restoration of calm in full," which will open the way for finding "a political solution" to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, he added.

The Security Council began its consultations on Saturday night at the request of Libya, the only Arab member of the council, following the deadly Israeli air raid on Gaza that began on Saturday.

During the closed-door meeting, which lasted until the wee hours of Sunday morning, the United States opposed Libya's request for a formal meeting and preferred a non-binding press statement, diplomatic sources said.

Israel continued its airstrikes early Sunday which it said were targeted at Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, killing at least 271 people since Saturday.

Israel's strikes came after its cabinet decided to intensify military pressure against Hamas to force it to stop rocket attacks on Israeli border towns. An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between Hamas and Israel expired on December 19.

(Xinhua News Agency December 28, 2008)

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