Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon late Monday expressed concern at reports that Israeli forces are dropping leaflets in the northern Gaza Strip urging tens of thousands of residents to leave their homes and evacuate to Gaza City, his press office said in a statement.
"If true, this would have a further devastating humanitarian impact on the beleaguered civilians of those areas of the Gaza strip, who have already undergone immense suffering in recent days," the statement added, stressing the "critical importance" of ending hostilities.
It warned that the UN agencies on the ground do not have the necessary resources to cope with, or provide assistance to, an enormous extra influx of desperate people.
Ban "strongly urges all sides to avoid any further escalation at this time," the statement appealed, noting that all sides "must meet all obligations" under international humanitarian law towards civilians ahead of impending attacks, and maintaining "proportionality in any kind of military response." He took the opportunity to once again condemn the firing of rockets and the building of tunnels into Israel from Gaza.
On Eid Day, Monday, Ban called for an "immediate and unconditional" humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza "in the name of humanity," and for accountability and justice for crimes committed "by all sides."